Who is the all-time best draft pick in Dallas Cowboys history? Who is the one player that had the most impact on the organization on and off of the field?
It is 1963 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and Naval Academy graduate Roger Staubach.
The Cowboys have had a storied history since their birth in 1960. Many great players have put on the helmet with the star from ‘Mr. Cowboy’ Bob Lilly to NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith. There are those in the organization who would argue that Lilly had the biggest impact on the organization.
However, the truth of the matter is that Staubach is the most important draft pick in Dallas history. One could make the case that he is one of the most important in NFL history.
In 1965, the Cowboys took a flyer on Staubach by drafting him despite the fact he would not be able to play with them until 1969. Graduates of the Naval Academy must serve five years of military service after graduation before being released. Staubach spent his time in Vietnam. Though not on the front line, he was still in harms way. From 1965 to 1968 he took leave during training camp and joined Dallas in Valley Ranch, California.
In 1969, he joined the team for good. Original Cowboy Don Meredith had just retired and Staubach battled Craig Morton for the starting role. After starting on opening day, Staubach sat the bench while Morton led the team to the playoffs. In 1970 it was much of the same as the Cowboys won their first NFC championship and advanced to Super Bowl V. There they lost to the Baltimore Colts on a last second field goal.
After two season of riding the bench, Staubach had yet to prove that he was the Cowboys best quarterback. He wanted to play and demanded a trade, but head coach Tom Landry would not grant him his wish. So Staubach went into 1971 believing it was his last chance to win the job. He did not, but neither did Morton.
Instead, Landry went back and forth between the two before finally giving the job to Staubach in week eight. The Cowboys did not lose another game the rest of the season and won their first world’s championship.
From there, the most important draft pick in Dallas Cowboys history went to work carving out his legacy as Captain Comeback. Sunday after Sunday it seemed Staubach was bringing the Cowboys from behind while most of America was watching. In all, he would lead the team to four Super Bowls and two world championships. Along the way the Cowboys would become known as ‘America’s Team’ and more popular than any in the NFL. Dallas became a brand more than a team and Staubach promoted the image with his military background, success on the field and Christian values off of it.
There are those who say that Landry is the most important person in Cowboys history, because of what he did to build the team. However, Landry and Dallas did not become the glamor brand of pro football until Staubach came along.
Dallas is what they are today thanks to their all-time best draft pick Roger Staubach.