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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Cal Lutheran is only 17 years old, and legend has it that Tom Landry was flying across the then-empty stretch of tawny hills when he pointed down and said, "Let there be a college." Certainly it is a better site for a training camp than Dallas, which suffered from 18 straight days of 100� temperatures this summer, replete with melting streets and heat-cracking buildings. At Cal Lutheran, even at midday it is dry and cool in the shade, the air astringent with the smell of sweating eucalyptus trees. Staubach walked straight as a midshipman, an invisible chin strap holding his head up and back. Without pads, he is somewhat slope-shouldered, and he walks with an ursine gait. A black rookie passed him going the other way, moaning to his buddies, "There ought to be a law against gettin' beat up every day." Staubach suppressed a grin.
John Fitzgerald, the Cowboy center, was carrying his tray from the cafeteria line as Staubach entered the dining hall. "Hey, John," Staubach said, "we're going to have to do something about that matter I mentioned to you this morning." Fitzgerald is beefy, flushed, his curly hair still wet and tousled. "Yeah," he said, "maybe I ought to start wearing gloves."
"Well, something," Staubach said. He explained that Fitz had come to camp overweight and wore a sweat belt during practice to boil off the blubber. His hands were so sweaty that Roger couldn't get a proper grip on the ball. Minor tactical considerations.
"Being in shape gives me confidence," Roger said, sitting down to eat. "Quarterbacks have to be confident. If you think something is going to go wrong, it will. Mental toughness is the one thing all top quarterbacks share, regardless of how they conduct their lives off the field. That and concentration. I have got to concentrate on football non-stop during the season, give it first priority, full time. Fortunately, my family understands; they're well-regimented. And real estate—I just set up my own firm last year—permits me to forget about it during the critical sales months.
"As to the physical preparation, I try to stay fit all year round. I've got a weight machine in my garage and it helps a lot with upper-body development. That in turn helps me to take the punishment during the year. I don't know if it's made me a stronger passer, but it's kept me healthy enough to keep passing. I also work out at the Aerobics Activity Center, which is run by Dr. Ken Cooper, the man who made aerobics popular in this country. But the best conditioning sport for a football player is basketball—the stopping and starting, the weaving movement, the demand it places on endurance. I mean full-court basketball. Not just killing each other under the hoop as you do in half-court. I also play tennis, but only once a week. I'm afraid that more tennis might lead to tendinitis."
All that physical activity coupled with church and charities doesn't seem to leave much time for intellectual nurture.
"Oh, no," he said. "I read a lot. Right now I'm into an "odd parlay: Nixon's memoirs and Colleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds. I'm a Watergate freak, I guess. I've read everything from Magruder to, well, Colson's Born Again. I'm very concerned about public morality and leadership, but I'm sure not going to set myself up as an authority. Entertainers and athletes should certainly have their own opinions of how society ought to be run, about right and wrong, but how can they in good conscience prescribe behavior the way they do on the talk shows? Being in the public eye is no license to suggest how people should live or govern themselves. Renown alone is hardly a credential.
"When you've achieved a certain measure of popular fame, you also have the power to exert enormous leverage on impressionable minds. A lot of well-known people don't realize that in its fullest implication. I feel very comfortable with my religion, and I know I couldn't be happy without it, but I'm not about to go around telling everyone to believe as I do, to pray as I do. I've been able to absorb the changes that grew out of Pope John's Vatican Councils, and I think they are good changes. The Church should have a social conscience, should take care of people's spiritual needs regardless of race or politics. I hate the hypocrisy of, say, the pious churchgoer who observes the Sabbath to the letter and then later in the week harangues against 'niggers' and fosters bigotry. It's simplistic, maybe, and Phyllis George might not like it, maybe, but I believe in being good. It makes other people feel good, and I feel good when they feel that way.
"But," and now he grinned wide open, "when I'm on the football field, I like to win."