Staubach's Military Commitments Kept Him Out of NFL For Six Years

Published on August 5th, 2023 3:13 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Roger Staubach, aka Captain America, in action for Dallas Cowboys. Try to imagine this scenario playing out in this day and age.

A player is drafted into the NFL and doesn't play in the league for six years after being drafted.

The team drafting him knows that he won't be playing in the league for a very long while, and the player also realizes that their dream of playing in the NFL is years off.

Now, imagine that this player, having not played high-level football for six years due to military commitments, comes to the league and becomes one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

This is the story of Roger Staubach.


Roger Staubach, who would become known as "Captain America", was a standout quarterback with the US Naval Academy in college.

In his junior season in 1963, Staubach led his team to a record of 9-1, and Navy finished as the second ranked team in the nation.

Staubach collected awards that year, winning the Heisman Trophy and Walter Camp Memorial Trophy.

Staubach suffered an injury in his senior year, though he was still very effective, throwing for over 1,000 yards.


Staubach was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 10th round of the 1964 NFL Draft, though they were fully aware that he was going to be serving in the Navy after graduating.

This is what allowed Staubach to fall all the way to the 10th round, but to the Cowboys, "Captain America" was still worth the pick.

Staubach served 2 years in Vietnam after graduating before returning to the United States, where he spent two more years with the Navy.

During this time, Staubach would get some QB work in playing for a team that was made up of fellow Navy officers. The Dallas Cowboys also gave Staubach their playbook to learn.

In 1968, Staubach took leave from the Navy to attend Cowboys' rookie camp. The Cowboys liked what they saw.

In 1969, Staubach resigned his Naval commission and joined the Cowboys as a 27 year-old rookie.


During the 1971, Staubach would take over as the starter for the Cowboys, where he would cement himself as one of the greatest QBs of all time.

Staubach was a 2x Super Bowl champion, a 1x Super Bowl MVP, a 6x Pro Bowler and a 4x passer rating leader.

Interestingly enough, Staubach's best season was his last one.

In 1979, at the age of 37, Staubach passed for 3,586 yards and 27 touchdowns while leading the Cowboys to a record of 11-5-0.

The Cowboys offered Staubach a 2-year deal, though Staubach would decline due to his history of concussions.

The move was a good one, as Staubach would start a real estate company that he would eventually sell for $600 million.


If you looked up the word "winner" in the dictionary, you'd probably see a picture of Roger Staubach.

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