Staubach: How Tom Landry helped shape my Hall-of-Fame career



(Roger Staubach cover photo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys)

Talk of Fame Network

There may be no more underappreciated quarterback in NFL history than former Dallas star Roger Staubach.

All he did in his 11-year career with the Cowboys was never experience a losing season, go to five Super Bowls (four as a starter), win two, become the first player in history to win the Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl and produce the third-best winning percentage (behind only Otto Graham and Tom Brady) in league history.

No surprise, then, that when the Dallas Morning News in 2010 ran a poll of the greatest Cowboys of all time, readers ranked him No. 1. Bu what is surprising is that when football fans or writers today produce lists of the game’s top five or 10 quarterbacks in NFL history, Roger Staubach's name sometimes is absent.

And that’s a mistake.

Because Roger Staubach was one of the best there ever was, and he attributes much of his success to his head coach for all 11 years of his Dallas tenure – Hall-of-Famer Tom Landry.

“Coach Landry was an industrial engineer,” Staubach said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “He had goals – outstanding … reasonable … believable … achievable – (and) they were measured. So his preparation was phenomenal. And he taught me a lot about preparation.

“I was a running kind of quarterback, even in the NFL, and coach Landry wasn’t crazy about that. He’d say, ‘You drop back, and here’s what you do: You execute, and you read your keys and you do this.’ Well, sometimes that didn’t work. So I ran more.”

No kidding. In Stabuach’s first year as a full-time starter (1971), he ran for 348 yards – averaging 8.4 yards a carry. And that was with Staubach sometimes alternating plays with Craig Morton, who opened the season as the Cowboys' starter.

But Staubach would supplant him, leading the team to 10 straight victories to close the season and become the Super Bowl VI MVP in a 24-3 rout of Miami. Again, Staubach credits his head coach for much of that success – not only then, but throughout his career.

“He put up with my running, and I learned a lot from him as far as my preparation and reading keys,” he said. “He was a master at keying the defense and looking at the weak safety. (He’d say) ‘If the weak safety goes strong, throw to the other side.’ We had these different keys all the time.

“So he really taught me a lot about preparation and reading defenses, and I taught him that quarterbacks can make first downs."


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