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Happy Birthday Captain America!

Posted on February 05, 2021 by Dean Hybl
Captain America Roger Staubach.

Happy 79th birthday to one of the iconic figures in NFL history, the true “Captain America”, Roger Staubach.

Throughout his nine seasons as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, Staubach was known for leading his team to late-game comebacks and improbable victories and thus was also often referred to as “Captain Comeback”.

He seemed to always have the uncanny knack of making the big play needed to lift his team to victory. He led the Cowboys to 23 fourth quarter game-winning drives during his career, including 15 times with his team trailing.

The Cowboys reached the playoffs in eight of his nine seasons as the starting quarterback and he led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl four times (they also reached the Super Bowl in 1970 when he was the backup).

He was named MVP of Super Bowl VI and also led Dallas to the title in Super Bowl XXII.

Staubach was a winner even before joining the Cowboys.

He spent three seasons at the Naval Academy and as a junior in 1963 won the Heisman Trophy while leading the Midshipmen to a 9-1 record and a number two national ranking.

After graduating, he spent five years in the U.S. Navy, including a tour in Vietnam. Each year he would use his furlough to join the Cowboys in training camp, even though he was unable to be part of the team during the season.

He finally joined the Cowboys as a 27-year-old rookie in 1969 and played in 14 games as a reserve during his first two seasons.

With the Cowboys struggling in 1971, head coach Tom Landry inserted Staubach as the full-time starter and he responded by leading the team to 10 straight victories and their first-ever Super Bowl title.

The following season, Staubach missed most of the year due to injuries, but was healthy enough at the end of the year to pull out one of his most memorable comebacks.

In the opening round of the NFL playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas trailed 28-13 in the fourth quarter when Staubach was inserted into the lineup replacing starter Craig Morton.

He led the Cowboys to 17 unanswered points, including two late touchdown passes, and a shocking 30-28 victory.

Staubach led the NFL in passer rating four times during his career and had the best passer rating in NFL history at the time of his retirement.

Known for his athleticism, “Roger the Dodger” was one of the first quarterbacks capable of winning games both with his arm and with his legs. He gained 2,264 yards rushing during his career. That didn’t always sit well with Coach Landry, who preferred the more traditional drop-back passer, but his improvisation often helped the Cowboys pull victory from the jaws of defeat.

As the stature of the Cowboys grew in the 1970s, they were dubbed “America’s Team” and Staubach was the real-life “Captain America” as their quarterback and captain. Though the Cowboys were equally loved and hated depending on the fan-base, Staubach was always respected as one of the great men of character in sports.

Because he didn’t enter the NFL until the age of 27, Staubach was 37-years-old when he led Dallas to an 11-5 record in 1979 while tossing a career-high 27 touchdown passes.

Having withstood a decade of NFL pounding, Staubach chose to retire at the top of his game. His career numbers of 22,700 yards passing, 153 touchdowns and 57% completion percentage may seem pedestrian by 2020 standards, but tell only a portion of the story for a quarterback who posted an 85-29 record as a starter.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility (1985) and he and O.J. Simpson, also elected that year, were the first former Heisman Trophy winners to be inducted in Canton.

Even today, more than 40 years after his retirement, football historians regularly rank Staubach among the top 10 quarterbacks and top 100 players in NFL history.

Since retirement, Staubach has continued to be respected around the NFL and in the business world. He has become a successful businessman and also is a frequent visitor to Cowboys games. In 2018 he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

During his career, the Cowboys played on almost every Thanksgiving Day and Staubach has continued that tradition with a flag-football game that often includes many of his former Dallas teammates.

As he celebrates his 79th birthday today, I am sure Roger is hoping he will receive a late present tomorrow as his long-time wide receiver Drew Pearson will hopefully finally be able to join his quarterback in Canton when the 2021 Hall of Fame inductees are announced.

Happy Birthday to a true American sports legend and hero.

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