Roger Staubach is well known for his heroics on the field, leading the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowls during his storied football career.
Famous for his game-winning pass to beat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL playoffs—and for helping to popularize the phrase “Hail Mary”—Staubach was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
While still on the Dallas Cowboys’ payroll, Staubach joined Dallas-based commercial real estate firm Henry S. Miller in 1970. Seven years later, he launched his own firm, The Staubach Co., and revolutionized the industry by pioneering tenant representation.
Staubach also shattered the glass ceiling by being among the first to not only employ female brokers but put them in executive leadership posts. He built a globally respected company that at its peak spanned 60 offices with 1,600 employees, before selling to JLL in 2008 for $613 million.
During a recent lunch with a real estate source, I was told: “Everyone has a Roger story.” And, indeed, thanks to Staubach’s gregarious yet humble personality, everyone does have a story.
My own Roger story involves a University of Texas at Dallas luncheon that I attended a few years back. Roger was presented with a commemorative football—funny, because UTD doesn’t have a football team. I got in line with the other media folks and waited to talk to Roger, but he was occupied: Roger had pried open the glass case and was throwing the football around the hotel ballroom.
While I may be a bit young to remember Staubach’s playing days, to me he will always be that guy from a Mark Wills’ country song: “I was Roger Staubach in my backyard/ Had a shoebox full of baseball cards/ And a couple of Evel Knievel scars on my right arm.”
Below, read what teammates, colleagues, friends, and family had to say about the one and only Roger Staubach. In celebration of his upcoming birthday—he turns 80 on Saturday—we invite you to share your own Roger stories with us in the comments below.
Son and CEO of Staubach Capital
“When I was 10 years old I was knocked over while skating at the Galleria in Dallas. I went straight to the ground, face first with my mouth open, and snap!, one of my front teeth was split in two. My parents were trying to enjoy dinner at Bennigan’s next to the rink while I was supposed to be keeping an eye on my younger sister. I popped up from the ice with no apparent injury, no blood, no tears, but half my tooth was gone. One of the attendants at the rink found the other end of the tooth and gave it to me while my sister skated over to the edge of the rink to get my parents’ attention. They attempted to wave her off. ‘We are still eating, you two have to skate a little longer.” Amy kept waving until my mom got up and walked over. She saw my busted tooth and I can still see her face today: ‘It’s always something with this kid.’
“Bennigan’s was cut short and somehow, she tracked down Dr. Simpson that night and he put a temporary fix on my tooth to cover the exposed nerve. From then in it was at least a bi-annual trip to see Dr. Simpson to repair my busted tooth, thanks to boxing with my buddy Dave, an elbow to the mouth in basketball, a bad hop on the baseball field, or just typical teenage shenanigans.
“But the best tooth story involved a backyard game of catch with my dad: I was 13 and planning to go out for third base on my summer team. I had a decent arm but needed to work on my throw to first base. Dad and I would go out to the backyard each night, warm up, then back it up to the required distance. With the sun going down and an old ball, it wasn’t easy to see the last few throws. Thankfully, my dad had a pretty decent arm, so it was easy for him to get it back to me and it was always on target. My throws, on the other hand, one-hopped him in the shin, were right, were left, and every now and then way over his 6-foot-3-inch frame.
“If I launched one high, I would just start running and we’d switch spots, so he didn’t have to chase my errant throw. This time he turned and ran to get the ball before it stopped rolling. He reached down with his right hand, grabbed the ball, turned, and let loose. He gave it everything he had and the ball, like usual, was on target. There was just one problem: I wasn’t looking. I remember hearing my dad say something, but I can’t remember exactly what it was. ‘JEFF! HEADS UP! LOOK OUT!’ I glanced toward my dad’s direction and saw the ball for a split second, a couple of feet from my face. BAM! It hit me square in the mouth. Not in the nose, not on the chin, right in my mouth. My lips exploded, my tooth went flying, the blood started pouring, and my dad was running toward me. I saw his face of fear and I immediately said, ‘I’m fine, it’s OK!’
“We went running inside to get my mom, the nurse, to take a look, and it was then I saw the same reaction as on the ice rink: ”It’s always something with this kid.”
Jennifer Staubach Gates
Daughter and former Dallas City Council member
“I love this photo of the two of us because it reminds me of the incredible life model he is for me. I arrived during his years serving the U.S. Navy and following that time I had a first-row seat to watch him excel at two amazingly successful careers. First, as a professional athlete playing football with the Dallas Cowboys, and second, in the commercial real estate world building The Staubach Co.. His professional accomplishments are only outshined by his faith and love of family. His steadfast morals, discipline, leadership skills, words of encouragement, lessons in perseverance, ability to motivate, and his unconditional love is everything that the young Naval officer holding a toddler’s purse offered me that day and a lifetime to follow. Happy Birthday, Dad!”
Ross Perot Jr.
Chairman of The Perot Group and Hillwood
“Roger approached my dad and me about investing in his real estate company in the early 80s. At the time we were focused deeply on building AllianceTexas so we didn’t invest. As I reflect on that opportunity today, it represents one of the worst business mistakes of my real estate career. We should have known better. Roger’s a winner and a doer; he brings success to whatever he commits himself, too. Happy birthday, Roger. “
An original team member of The Staubach Co.
“In the late ’90s, about 15 of our team members were in Las Vegas for a national real estate conference. One night over dinner, Roger proudly announced that he had purchased 10 tickets to the performance of one America’s legendary musical duos from the ’60s!! There was silence at the table. This group of predominantly 30-somethings, who were eager to take advantage of being in Las Vegas, started wiggling in their chairs. After a few minutes of lame excuses, everyone realized that no one really wanted to see this show and the kidding began about the “old guy’s” taste in music, which was, well, old.
“As it turned out, the ladies in the group—all six of us—graciously volunteered and let the guys off the hook. Turns out, the show was amazing. Roger had bought great seats and had arranged for us to go backstage after the show for a photo op with the performers—a real treat! Roger’s generosity, sense of humor, and love of classic rock made the evening one to remember!”
CEO, Markets at JLL
“We used to have a client event at Pebble Beach. It was a great way to grow relationships between clients and our own people. They would let us have a cocktail party on the 7th tee at Pebble Beach—it is an iconic hole. Every client got to hit a ball and then we’d give awards for the closest to the pin. A couple of folks got it really close to the pin. Roger got up and hit it, and I think he hit the green, but he wasn’t the closest to the pin. This gets to his competitive nature. He then picked up a golf ball in his hand, and from 100 yards on his first try, he threw the ball and hit the pin. The crowd erupted. It was something to see, for sure.”
Former Staubach Co. team member and CEO, Dowdle Real Estate
“I was on the board of Our Friends Place, a safe haven for abused and abandoned teenage girls. I asked Marianne and Roger and their family to chair our fundraising event. Back in the day, if you worked with Roger, you could pay $100 to one of his charities to get a signed football. So, for the event, I got a signed football and put it in a glass case for the auction. The night of the event, there were two main bidders—a man toward the back and a man at the middle table in the ballroom. You may have figured it out by now, but Roger ended up buying his own football for $1,200—a very generous contribution to Our Friends Place!
“Happy birthday, Roger! I’m grateful to have been part of what you created over the years. You’re a champion to all of us!”
Dr. Kenneth Cooper
Founder and chairman of the Cooper Clinic and The Cooper Institute
“When I was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on November 14, 1983, I was asked to have some famous person from Oklahoma to be there to introduce me. Originally I had selected T. Boone Pickens, a good Okie, who was scheduled to fly up. At the last minute, he had to cancel. So as a substitute, I asked Roger Staubach. They said they’d be delighted to have him come. The introduction went well. During the reception, people mobbed him and completely ignored me. And to this day, Roger reminds me that he was my “second choice.” Roger has been one of my best friends since 1974, and I wish him the happiest of birthdays this year.”
Susan Gwin Burks
Former Staubach Co. team member and senior vice president at Avison Young
“Roger spent a significant amount of time traveling to The Staubach Co. offices around the country. After 9/11, he would travel to our New York City office, and being Roger, who was admired and respected by so many people, he became such a bright spot in helping with morale after that tragic time in history. He took such an interest in the brave police and fire workers who put their lives on the line that day and lost so many of their partners and team members. You could see the relief they were getting from the misery they had been through when you watched their smiles and heard their laughter while spending time with Roger, talking or sharing stories from his football days. Roger is truly an all-American hero and I was honored to be a part of the team!”
Former Cowboy and team member at The Staubach Co.
“In 1975, I was a third-round draft pick rookie for the Dallas Cowboys. What a treat it was for me to watch Roger Staubach command the wildcard team all the way to the Super Bowl. The famous ‘Hail Mary’ pass was legendary. This was typical of Roger’s cool and never-give-up attitude he brings to all of life, both on and off the field. I had the privilege to be his training camp and on-the-road roommate for several years with the Cowboys. As a rowdy, unchurched, rough around the edges sort of young man—and 12 years his junior—I learned a lot from watching Roger up close, dealing so faithfully with his family, teammates, and business associates. Roger is lots of fun but carries integrity that few men possess.”
Managing director of site selection, esrp
“In the mid-1980s, Roger and I were walking in downtown Dallas to a client meeting. A young man walked directly past us, stopped dead in his tracks and literally walked backward, looked at Roger and said: ‘Didn’t you used to be Roger Staubach?’”
Land consultant of Younger Partners
“While on a business trip in NYC, Roger had a boot on his leg, which, if memory serves, was for tendonitis. We were busy there and it was during a time when the Cowboys and the Giants were extremely competitive. We were in a cab going to meet Ed Marinaro, who had played for Minnesota and the New York Jets. Three blocks from our destination, the cabbie recognized Roger and abruptly stopped the cab. We were firmly told to exit. No Cowboy quarterback would ride in his cab. We had to jog to the restaurant, which we did, only to be five minutes late. Marinaro never did invest, and I asked the quarterback to wear a hat from then on.
“And then there was Roger’s greatest honor, winning the Super Bowl in 1977 against Denver. While still in the locker room after the game, his real estate brokerage, Henry S. Miller Co., sent him a telegram promoting him from assistant VP to VP. He humorously was underwhelmed.”
Former Staubach Co. team member and CEO of esrp
“When I went in to resign to him after we sold to JLL, I told him I was leaving to go build and grow something that I had ownership in—I wasn’t taking a check, and I was putting skin in the game. He said, ‘That’s why I left Henry S. Miller.’ The fact that he totally understood and was supportive just shows what a class act he is, and I will never forget it.”
Former Cowboy and founder and CTO, Newtec Business Solutions
“One of my memories of Roger Staubach was when were attending the late former Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Bob Wards’ memorial service in 2018, and we were standing around talking about Coach Ward’s influence on us as players. Roger looked at me and said, ‘Bob’s influence was so great, I still lift weights to this day.’ He then said, ‘Feel my muscle,’ as he pointed to his left bicep. I looked and smiled. He said, ‘Seriously, feel my muscle,” which I happily did.”
Former colleague at Henry S. Miller and executive chairman of Weitzman
“We do our retail industry forecast every year—we’ve been doing it for about 40 years now—and one year, Roger did a fireside chat with me. Roger is known for always giving away signed footballs to everybody. I played basketball at the University of Texas for the Longhorns. I barely made the team, and I was not that good. At the end of the forecast, I thought it would be pretty great to give Roger a signed basketball. I’m sure he still has it today.”