By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Nope, let's expose the warts. All of them. Surely he's been in trouble at some point in his life. Right?
"One time at New Mexico Military Institute [High School], I snuck out with a bunch of guys and went downtown to have some fun," Staubach admits. "Got caught. Had to march 15 hours with my rifle on my shoulder."
Y-a-w-n. That's it? Only Staubach could possess a rap sheet that smells like spring fresh Downy. Transgressions? His oops wouldn't amount to a speck of dust on the wing of a fly buzzing around one of Tiger's tainted stripes.
These days Staubach, born in Cincinnati but a Dallas resident the last 40 years, is 67 going on 17. Despite five children and his scrambling around as a grandfather, he's fit and trim and blessed with more hop and hair than most men three decades younger. He wears a blue pinstriped dress shirt and tie, no Super Bowl ring ("I'm just not a jewelry guy," he says) and looks as though he could beat out Jon Kitna for a job as Tony Romo's backup tomorrow.
He is, in fact, exactly how you remember him, crooked pinkie and all.
"The big, strong quarterback that was everybody's hero?" Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief says. "He's still that same guy. He's still Captain America."
Granted, he did lose his final game as Cowboys quarterback in 1979 and accidentally completed his final pass to offensive lineman Herb Scott. And in his corner office—he's executive chairman of JLL after a $600 million merger with his old Staubach Co. in 2008 netted him a $100 million payday—he has one of his Navy hats, a copy of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and photos of himself with Michael Jordan, Warren Buffett and—gasp—former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr.
But as for cracks in the foundation?
"I've got a weakness," he says. Go onnnnnnn...
"For people wanting autographs. I can't say no. I'm an easy touch. I know some guys are just going to sell it on eBay, but how do you know? I enjoy being recognized. I enjoy taking photos. One of these days pretty soon, people won't care. Most of them don't already."
A-ha, the shortcoming! Roger Staubach is a liar.
Because Lively says not only do fans still care, they are moved by his kindness.
"I've seen him go out of his way to be nice to a receptionist or just a mom in an elevator," he says. "I remember him bringing tears to the eyes of a maintenance man by remembering his name. He just makes common folks feel special, and that's a unique quality. Roger's one of a kind. They don't make them like him anymore. He's a rock star in airports, but he's also like Walter Cronkite in that he's one of the most trusted men in America."
Whether he's playing in a charity flag football game or politicking in the name of XLV, Staubach is a regional treasure. Not an artifact, mind you. But rather a living, breathing icon capable of instantly instilling hope into Texas Rangers fans when his name is linked to a new ownership group, criticizing Romo without sounding cantankerous and somehow making the impending implosion of Texas Stadium—the house that he and Tex Schramm and Tom Landry and God built—feel more sweet than bitter.
Chicago has Ernie Banks. Cleveland has Jim Brown. Boston has Larry Bird. Atlanta has Hank Aaron. We have Staubach.
On Texas Stadium: "The physical structure will go away, but we'll always have the memories. Just because it's gone doesn't mean we didn't beat the Redskins in there, 35-34."
On his potential involvement with the Rangers: "It's getting complicated. If anything I'll wind up as a sort of local board member. But a minority co-owner or savior? No, I'm not that guy."
On Romo's pre-New York Giants game Vegas trip: "Perception is reality, and it just doesn't look good. I don't agree with needing to get away from football for a couple of days. I think there's crucial value in keeping the football mind-set."
Staubach claims he's too busy for politics, swears he's forgiven Jones for firing Landry, and still plays golf with Cliff Harris and phone tag with Lee Roy Jordan. For now he's pouring his precious time and boundless energy into XLV, attending meetings, speaking at fund-raisers and even driving singer Faith Hill from the airport to her host committee kick-off concert at Fort Worth's Bass Hall next spring.
"If anyone ever had the right to a large ego, it's Roger Staubach," Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck says. "But he's unassuming. Down to earth. He's still my hero."
Staubach's introduction to the Super Bowl was modest, faint, indistinguishable. In 1967 he listened to Super Bowl I on Armed Forces Radio while stationed on a patrol boat in Danang Harbor, Vietnam.
"Play in one?" he says. "At that point I just wanted to live long enough to see one."
Now, unmistakably, Staubach is one.
"If hosting the Super Bowl were somehow turned into a Hollywood movie, you couldn't cast the lead role any better than Roger Staubach." —Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones