Veterans Day in America was first officially celebrated on November 11, 1918. With The Shadow League’s Veterans Day Flow, we pay homage to those athletes who honed their leadership skills and resilience as members of the U.S. military before embarking on their professional sports careers.
There are many names that could be mentioned in this honored pantheon, but none are more hallowed among sports fans than Roger Staubach.
When it comes to leadership, it doesn’t matter whether it’s on the field of play or in the field, the discernible qualities are always apparent. In his third game as a starter at Navy, Staubach led the Midshipmen to a 34-14 win over the favored Army Black Knights.
(Photo Credit: Pro Football Hall of Fame)
In his 1963 Heisman Trophy campaign, Staubach led them to a 35-14 win over Notre Dame. Navy didn’t repeat the feat until 44 years later in 2007.
He would lead the Midshipman to a 9-1 regular season record before losing the national championship to the nation’s No. 1 team, the University of Texas in the Cotton Bowl. In 1965, Staubach would graduate and do a tour of duty in Vietnam, serving as a Supply Corp officer at the Chu Lai base. He returned stateside in September of 1967.
The NFL allowed the Dallas Cowboys to draft Staubach in the 10th round of the 1964 draft, despite him still having college eligibility left. But he didn’t play in the NFL until five years later as a 27-year-old rookie.
After assuming the starting role in Week 8, he would lead the Cowboys on a 10-game winning streak that culminated in a Super Bowl VI victory over the Miami Dolphins. He was named MVP.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Staubach would lose to the Steelers in Super Bowl X, then win Super Bowl XII over the Denver Broncos, before losing to Pittsburgh again in Super Bowl XIII.
There may have been quarterbacks that threw more touchdowns and won more Super Bowls, but Staubach’s Naval Academy-honed leadership, in addition to his Hall of Fame NFL career, is what makes him one of the greatest of the all-time greats.