There was a time when being an NFL star was more of a niche market than it is today. Long before the eight-figure salaries, endorsement deals, and luxury lifestyles defined NFL stardom, NFL players were regular people making good, but not spectacular paychecks playing a game. Roger Staubach, who was the face of the Dallas Cowboys for most of the 1970s, helps encapsulate this. However, when he wasn’t leading America’s team to victory,
Staubach’s day job
Staubach was never an average NFL player. It took him years to get into the game even after getting drafted in 1964, according to Pro Football Reference. After five years on the bench, Staubach finally got some play in 1969, but it wasn’t until two years later that he was the official four-time starter. At 29 years old, when many NFL players are already past their primes, Staubach became the face of the Cowboys’ offense.
Staubach was built like a marble statue but threw the ball with remarkable accuracy, especially when defenses were allowed to punish NFL quarterbacks. He won his first Super Bowl in 1972 but was relegated back to the bench the following year. However, from 1973 to 1979, Staubach started nearly every game for the Cowboys and, once again, led the team to Super Bowl glory at Super Bowl XII.
Staubach retired in 1979 with nearly 23,000 passing yards, 153 touchdowns, and 109 interceptions. His unlikely story made him a fan favorite for both the Dallas faithful and football fans everywhere. However, coming into the NFL during this era with so much uphill climbing, Staubach decided to prepare for life after football when he was still in the mix. As such, he took a night job that was entirely different than the average athlete looking toward the future.
Staubach’s night job
With a decent paycheck coming every week but a life full of uncertainty after football, Staubach started looking toward the future while he was still making a name on the NFL field, according to D Magazine. He started working for a man named Henry S. Miller, who showed him the ropes of real estate. In an interview with D Magazine, Staubach credits Miller with his post-football success in real estate and compares him to legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry.
“He was a man of total integrity, a great person. The whole company—I just really enjoyed being there,” Staubach told the magazine. “Henry Miller Jr. was a lot like Landry. They both had similar haircuts … they both had phenomenal integrity, great work ethic, and they could transfer their strengths to other people.”
Miller showed Staubach the ropes and eventually enabled him to start his own commercial real estate company. That company proved far more lucrative than anything Staubach did on the football field.
Staubach is known for his life in football, but that netted him a small portion of his vast fortune. Despite making just $25,000 as a rookie and never breaking into the millionaire boy’s club as a player, he is now worth over $600 million thanks to his real estate empire. While some may expect his football career to still be his proudest moment, Staubach compares his real estate success to his football career.
“The feeling you have when winning a Super Bowl is fantastic, and the feeling I had when we accomplished having somebody else want to buy our company is still a great feeling,” Staubach said. “They’re different feelings, but they’re similar in a lot of ways. But it’s a longer process over 30 years building The Staubach Co., and I just got lucky to come to the Dallas Cowboys.”
Staubach’s real estate has now lasted five times longer than his football career did. While he still holds a passion for his playing days, he shows no signs of slowing down on either side in older age. His story shows that just because someone might not make Patrick Mahomes money in the NFL, it doesn’t mean they can’t in other places, too.