SI Vault
A Do-Gooder Who's Doing Good
Robert F. Jones
September 04, 1978
Roger Staubach—Mr. Straight Arrow, the Galahad of the Gridiron—gets ready to mount his white horse and ride hell out of 1978
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 04, 1978

A Do-gooder Who's Doing Good

Roger Staubach—Mr. Straight Arrow, the Galahad of the Gridiron—gets ready to mount his white horse and ride hell out of 1978

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

The world is too much with us, as Wordsworth said. We live in an age of venality, corruption, scandal and immorality. Diogenes would have to walk a long way with his lamp these days to find an "honest man." Ironically, he might find him in the vicinity of Dallas, a city more renowned for high-roller excesses than cynicism, as Diogenes and his ilk defined it. If the old Greek Cynic ever returns, he would do well to shine his lantern on 2511 Prairie Creek, the home of one Roger Thomas Staubach in the Dallas suburb of Richardson. For Staubach is by all accounts the Galahad of the Gridiron, the NFL's own personal St. Francis of Assisi, the straightest arrow in the quiver.

Consider these credentials. Preeminent quarterback and team leader of the world-champion Dallas Cowboys for most of the 1970s—and that despite four years lost to service in the Navy. A loyal husband and family man, the father of five fine youngsters (four girls and a boy). Successful off-season businessman (his own real estate firm). Active in as many do-good organizations as he can fit into his hectic schedule: the American Diabetes Association, the Salvation Army and, of course, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

It's enough to make a lesser man swear off of hard likker and head for the nearest hair-shirt factory. But there is a devil in the lesser man's bones, an imp who would seek out imperfection even in the perfect—most importantly in the perfect—so as to justify his own far greater failings. And when reality cannot provide such unworthy titillation, the imagination goes to work, as in this fictional scene (with apologies to Holy Mother Church):

Place: The cool, rainbow gloom of a Catholic cathedral on a Saturday afternoon. An aura of old incense and melting wax fills the air. Low light filters through the stained-glass agonies of Christ, and the only sound to be heard is the muted, mutter of penitents, punctuated by the occasional creak of a genuflecting knee joint. A tall, lean figure with short dark hair strides in its turn to the busy confessional booth in the side aisle, pulls its heavy drapery aside and enters.

Penitent: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It is a full week since my last confession. Since then I have committed the following sins. First, I stood idly by and said nothing while other men took the Lord's name in vain—

Padre: Excuse me, my son, but what did they say?

Penitent: It was at the start of two-a-days, Father, and they can be tough. One of these men said, 'Lord, it's a hot day!' And the other said, 'You dang tootin', hotter than the hinges of You Know Where.'—

Padre: Very well my boy. (A soft groan from the confessor's side of the box.) Proceed.

Penitent: Next, I coveted my neighbor's goods. It was after practice yesterday, in the cafeteria. I was late getting to the chow line and there was only one steak left. Before I could take it, Too Tall Jones reached out, grabbed it and gobbled it up, the way he does those smaller backs, you know? I had to settle for liver and onions. It was then that I coveted—

Padre: All right, all right—go on to the next sin.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6