SEPTEMBER 4, 1978
The newly hired young man would arrive early, around eight o'clock, at the real estate office in the spring of 1970, go to his desk and begin a long round of sales calls and meetings. His boss, Henry Miller, was delighted to have a bright, ambitious U.S. Naval Academy graduate working for him, so much so that he didn't mind when the young fellow left early each afternoon to train for his second job. "When I started, it didn't really occur to him that I was a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys," says Roger Staubach. "To him I was just a hardworking former academy guy, so he didn't mind my schedule. And after all, I was working on commission."
Those off-seasons spent learning real estate paid off for Staubach, now 59 and chairman and CEO of The Staubach Co., the Dallas real estate consulting firm he founded in 1977. The company has certainly grown since then. In March it won the contract to develop and run Manhattan's new $788 million Farley- Penn Station, the sort of high-profile project that Staubach only dreamed of 24 years ago and is now a routine part of his business. "I had three little girls when I started this [he and wife Marianne now have five grown children], and I knew I needed something after football," says Staubach, who never made more than $230,000 a year during his 11-season NFL career. "As good as the real estate business has been, though, those years with the Cowboys were almost perfect."
As was the unflappable Staubach. After becoming Dallas's starting quarterback as a 29-year-old third-year pro—his four-year commitment to the Navy kept him from the NFL until he was 27—Staubach, a six-time Pro Bowl choice with a knack for leading the Cowboys to come-from-behind victories, was at the helm during two Super Bowl wins. When asked to cite his favorite moment as a player, Staubach doesn't hesitate: "Nineteen seventy-five, the 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with time running out against the Vikings in the playoffs. After the game, I told reporters, 'I just closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.' That's where that term started, and it got me a nice letter from the pope." After a beat he breaks the stunned silence with a laugh. "Just kidding."
Staubach's timing always was top-notch. In 1980, after Dallas made him a two-year, $1.5 million offer that was astronomical by the standards of the time, Staubach—wary of the concussions he'd begun to suffer with increasing regularity—retired from football. (He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in '85.) "I couldn't ask for a better end to my career," he says. "I wanted to focus on the company, and I never wanted to stay around too long. Now I get to look back and smile, with no regrets."