Army-Navy 2017: Quick slants with former Navy QB and NFL Hall of Famer Roger Staubach
By SEAN MOORES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 8, 2017
PHILADELPHIA — In addition to winning the Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1963, Roger Staubach led the Midshipmen to a 9-1 record and a No. 2 national ranking at the end of the season. After fulfilling his military commitment in the Navy, Staubach joined the Dallas Cowboys as a 27-year-old rookie in 1969. He led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl titles in his 11-year professional career, and was named the MVP of Super Bowl VI in 1972. After his retirement from the NFL in 1980, Staubach went on to a successful career in business and real estate.
Staubach spoke with Stars and Stripes on Friday afternoon on Military Alley at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
What makes the Army-Navy Game such a special event?
I think the special event side of it is that people relate to the men and women of the service academies as far as the commitment they have to protect us and our kids and our grandkids. And the game is a way to appreciate that and also to watch some really good athletes out on the field. And to see the discipline and the march on; there’s just a lot of things associated with the game that reflect the commitment of — of course this is the men’s side of the service academies — and what they’re going to be doing when they graduate. They’re going to still be in the service and doing everything that they can in this crazy, wacky world to protect us. I think there’s a broad base of military out there, too, that have a chance to see — even if they haven’t been to the service academies — they still relate to the military side of it, and they look forward to seeing the game. No matter what the records are, it’s just an exciting game to watch.
How did your years at the academy prepare you for success in the NFL and in your career in business?
The thing that really helped me a whole lot is that it takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to get spectacular results. I got up at 5 in the morning, or whatever time we got up, and we worked and went to school and did everything we did. That made a big difference. I do think in life that you just have to work, You’re taught a balance in your life — everything you take out of life you get back. And in the service, you give it back. You’re actually protecting somebody else’s back. And so the balance of taking and giving is with people you can trust, and who are team players. Having the right people in the right place in business is really, really important, but to have the right people in the right place and working together is when miracles happen. And you learn in the service that you have to work together. We all go through adversity, and when you get knocked down you don’t blame anybody else or cook the books or give up on your faith. You fight through it. I learned that in the military, and it’s very important in business, too. I’ve always said that adversity reveals genius and prosperity conceals it. You really find out the best in people when times are tough. You learn that in the military; you can really find out how great and disciplined and caring servicepeople are.
We know where your academy allegiance lies. What will it take for Navy to get back on a winning track tomorrow (after losing to Army for the first time since 2001)?
Both teams run the triple option, and I’m not sure how they can trick each other. I think the big thing will be the team that doesn’t turn the ball over. I think if Navy can stay away from turning the ball over I think they can win. They’re 8-3, we’re 6-5. It should be a pretty darn good game.
You were the last military academy player to win the Heisman Trophy. Who do you think will win the trophy tomorrow?
Well I voted, and I really can’t talk about it, but he played the same position I did. And his state is real close to my state. I guess he’s gonna win. What’s his name? Mayfield, or something like that? (Gives sheepish grin) I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about it, but I did vote. He’s had a fantastic year. They’re going to announce it tomorrow, so don’t tell anybody I talked about it.