Staubach: Teamwork, sacrifice lead to greatness

Frank Shubert/The Highlander

Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach adresses the Hill Country 100 Club during their annual awards banquet on Jan. 16 at the YMCA of the Highland Lakes Galloway-Hammond Center in Burnet.





By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Teamwork, hard work and sacrifice in the face of adversity are qualities which great athletes and great first responders both share, Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach noted as keynote speaker for the 15th annual Hill Country 100 Club Awards Banquet Thursday.

Staubach, who quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys to four Super Bowls, addressed the more than 700 club members, guests, community leaders, first responders and family members in attendance at the banquet, at which first responders from four counties were honored by their departments for outstanding service to their respective communities.

“Adversity reveals genius and prosperity conceals it,” Staubach said. “You find out the best in people when times are tough. There is nobody in this room who has not seen tough times. We all experience difficulties. A team player does care about someone other than themselves, and when they get knocked down, they don't give up; they battle back and they do the right thing when they're battling back.

“I can't say enough about how important teamwork is to every one of you sitting out here tonight that have been firemen and policemen for a good part of your lives,” Staubach added. “Having the right people in the right places is very immportant, but when you have the right people in the right places and working together is when miracles happen. You (as first responders) have to have the right people in the right places, working together to protect your own lives and to protect other people's lives. It's a little different than sports.”

A homeowner in Horseshoe Bay since 1985, Staubach understands a thing or two about playing for a team as he spent all 11 years of his career with the Dallas Cowboys before retiring after the 1979 season. He also established the Staubach Company, a commercial real estate business he built from the ground up and sold in 2008 to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). Staubach currently serves as executive chairman for JLL Americas.

Staubach said team players understand the challenge of “getting our lives balanced.”

“When we have a life, whatever is inside of us, there is more of a 'hey, what's in it for me' type of mentality and you have to really pull yourself away to say, 'hey, other people are important besides me.'” Staubach said. “You take out of life, but you give back, and people who give back understand and they put themselves in other people's shoes, they understand the use of discrimination, they understand the challenges and the bravery that you have as firemen and policemen.

“Getting that balance is a battle every day, but getting that balance is critical because those are people you can trust and they are team players and people who really give a darn about someone other than themselves.”

Staubach said in 1971, the Cowboys were expected to be again competing for a Super Bowl berth after having lost the previous year to the Baltimore Colts in the big game, but had limped out to a 4-3 record in their first seven games. There was a lot of finger pointing in the media and even in the lockerroom about who was to blame for the team's inconsistency, especially with the hype generated from the team's christening of the brand-new Texas Stadium two weeks earlier with a 44-21 rout of the New England Patriots.

There was a quarterback controversy as well as not only did veterans Craig Morton and Staubach alternate series as signal callers for the Cowboys, but they even alternated plays against the Chicago Bears in a 23-19 loss.

“We were struggling,” Staubach said. “We had one of the best teams we've ever had and Coach (Tom) Landry was driving them crazy. We were an ugly 4-3 and had just lost to the Chicago Bears. It was a blame game. People who've had that balance and care about somebody else, they don't blame anybody else. They are team players and they do the right thing. We had all this talent and all the right people in the right places, but we weren't working together.”

At a players-only meeting, Staubach said future Hall of Fame tight end Mike Ditka, known for being a tough guy on and off the field, led a parade of All-Stars, including Bob Lilly, Lee Roy Jordan and Mel Renfro in talking about “the importance of someone else out there other than ourselves.”

“'We're selfish out there, we're blaming other people out there and let's start playing together as a team.' Mike led the charge and it was one of the best meetings and it was a sincere meeting and we got a lot accomplished,” Staubach said.

He said Ditka told his teammates he was “going to leave everything I have out there on that field for you, my teammates” when the Cowboys played the St. Louis Cardinals the following week.

“Ditka said, 'If there is anyone else on this team in this room who is not going to do the same, then I want to know who you are and I'm going to do something about it,'” Staubach said. “Well, that helped the bonding between us.

“We had the talent and had the right people in the right places, but weren't working together. All of a sudden, we started to understand what it meant to be a team. We won our last seven regular season games, won the first two playoff games and then beat Miami to win the World Championship. We went from a team that was written off and had played in those first seven games with the same human beings, but because we started playing together, we became World Champions.”

Landry settled on Staubach as his full-time starter after the Chicago game and “Roger the Dodger” flourished, throwing for 1,882 yards and 15 TDs to only four interceptions while also gaining 343 yards on the ground with two scores. He finished the season as the top-rated passer in the NFL and, more importantly, the Cowboys won all 13 games Staubach started that season, including the last 10 games they played.

“It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to get spectacular results,” Staubach said. “We worked at it and it paid off. We gave that extra not only because we had a responsibility to ourselves, but also because we had a responsibility to the other players.

“Some of those same ingredients, the hard work, the adversity, the trust, it is in our every day lives, it is in our families, in our businesses and our communities. I know the human beings in this room, each and every day you are sacrificing for the good of our family and other families.”

The Hill Country 100 Club was founded in 2001 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for the purpose of offering financial support to families of first responders from Lampasas, Blanco, Llano and Burnet Counties killed or injured in the line of duty.

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