Happy 80th birthday, Roger Staubach! We reflect and celebrate…
This feature appeared in the November 2017 issue of Local Profile magazine.
Walking with Roger Staubach through the elegant Cowboys world headquarters at The Star in Frisco, it’s impossible to ignore the wide eyes and goofy smiles of unsuspecting employees and visitors. Roger salutes and shakes a few hands; he even stops for a few minutes in the cafeteria to catch up with Calvin Hill, another former Cowboys player who was drafted the same year. Roger asks about Calvin’s grandchildren and his wife, Janet, and his charity work.
As we continue to wander through the facility, there seems to be a tribute to Roger’s football career around every corner: frame-by-frame photos of his famous Hail Mary pass; his name and jersey number written on the floor of the hall; a first photo of him in his Cowboys uniform, backlit and larger than life.
Although his face is all over the place, Roger Staubach draws no attention to any of the memories and seems almost embarrassed to be so heavily idolized. Over the decades he has been revered as Captain America, Captain Comeback, Roger the Dodger, Mr. Cowboy – the list goes on. In today’s professional sports culture, that kind of treatment and praise would only feed an athlete’s ego. But Roger is not your average quarterback.
The humble beginnings of Roger Staubach
Roger Staubach served four years in the Navy, including a year in Vietnam, before being drafted by the Cowboys in 1969 on a $25,000 starting contract. Since football teams “didn’t pay quarterbacks quite what they were paying them today,” Roger knew an injury could be the end of his career, so he started working in the real estate for the Henry S. Miller Company where he met one of his great mentors in life, Henry Miller himself. He still affectionately calls him Mr. Miller.
While working for Mr. Miller as a broker, Roger helped companies find the type of facility they wanted to move into, which was not “quite fashionable” since most brokers represented the building rather than the tenant. Roger knew this was the line of business he wanted to follow when he went freelance in the late 70s and founded The Staubach Company. But Miller taught him more than just business strategy; he imposed a strong ethic.
“Mr. Miller and I became good friends, and he said, ‘Roger, don’t forget to tell your people that you want to win business, but you have to do it right. And then the rewards follow. Sometimes , brokers care more about the money than how they make it. I always preach this message. If we won the case, we would make sure we got it right.
“While I was in sales he was like, ‘Don’t worry Roger, just make sure you treat the assistant with dignity and let him know you’d like to talk to the decision maker. Sometimes you talk to someone else, but you always treat them well. Today, people call me to talk to me, but they talk to [my assistants] who then tell me stories I can’t believe. It’s how you treat people in life that makes the difference. It’s the same message I give to the folks at The Staubach Company, a lot of it is from Mr. Miller…and some of it is what I made up,” Roger laughs.
The Staubach company
These lessons paid off. The Staubach company has grown to 1,600 employees with nearly 70 offices across the country. As their client lists grew, they were asked to do more services and in different parts of the world, so Roger decided to bring in an international partner, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). In 2008, The Staubach Company was sold to JLL for over $600 million.
“We got together 10 years ago, and it’s been a great marriage. I’m the executive chairman of JLL, which just means I help customers. I don’t do operational things. After all these years, I’m still very active in the business.
Another of Roger Staubach’s other most active ventures is with his partner Robert Shaw, who founded Columbus Realty Trust, a company that develops apartment buildings. “Robert started it and directs it. He’s fantastic, the best partner I’ve ever had. At [beginning] I wasn’t sure because I didn’t necessarily want to worry about apartments, but Robert showed me how we could build a good business.
“Good” is an understatement. Columbus was one of the first companies to build apartments in Uptown, beginning with The Meridian and The Worthington, which led to nearly a dozen projects and a complete transformation of the neighborhood. Roger calls Robert Shaw “the heavyweight” and credits him with most of the success. Their current apartment projects are in the hottest markets such as Trinity Groves in Dallas, The Domain and Craig Ranch in Austin, Legacy West in Plano, downtown McKinney and, of course, The Star in Frisco. .
Scheduled to open this fall, Roger Staubach has partnered with Jerry Jones and his family to develop a 17-story luxury apartment tower as part of the mixed-use project. With approximately 130 units, this will be Frisco’s first high-rise.
“I spoke with the Joneses – I’m a Cowboys fan, I definitely supported the team. Well, they liked the idea of me being involved, but they wanted to do their homework on Robert, who is simply fantastic income because he was so successful. [The Jones family] told us what they want, and they trust that we can deliver. Charlotte and Steven are really involved and, of course, Jerry is still involved. We are almost ready to innovate – knock on wood.
Outside of real estate, Roger sometimes invests in startups. He’s excited about one in particular, a company that creates high-end impact-reducing football helmets.
“VICIS has a great headset which is very popular at the moment. They had great people involved. I believe the helmet will be part of the concussion support process. They are quite unique and they have patents on some parts. It’s one of the best headsets around, and they’re just getting started.
He has also invested in a few medical start-ups, but takes most of his risk in real estate rather than new ventures. “I could get involved in seven [startups] and I hope we will get there. Startups are big risks. I’ve been involved in some things that have been good and a lot of things that have… not been good,” he laughs and shakes his head.
But Roger, like in the last quarter of a football match, doesn’t let the idea of failure get to him.
“You don’t give up. Adversity reveals genius and prosperity hides it. You discover the best when times are toughest. Do not abandon. Truly successful people… do the right thing, never give up, and never get discouraged when told to take a hike.
“I have learned [that lesson] at the Naval Academy and in the service. It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to get dramatic results. You have to work hard and some people don’t understand. I had to get up every morning at 5:30. If I had been at another college, I would have been up at 9 a.m. and skipped my classes,” he laughs.
Roger and humility
Another lesson Roger Staubach learned in service, and he’s known to exude, is humility.
“You can’t get caught up in yourself because you can’t do it all on your own. Sometimes you think it’s all about you, and it’s not. In the department, it’s a team atmosphere; they had a lot to do with [my humility]. It’s important to be a team player and understand what that means.
One thing he’s not afraid to brag about is his family: his wife of 52 years, five children, 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Roger still remembers the families in the neighborhood he grew up in – mostly large Catholic families with lots of children – and asked his parents to give him a sibling, but due to complications he was left as a child. unique. He considers his family his greatest achievement. In fact, he’s so proud of them that when two of his granddaughters attended the University of Texas at Austin (UT), he started supporting the Longhorns.
“I never thought I’d do this since we lost to UT in the 1964 national championship. [my senior year] … difficult loss. But when the grandkids graduated, I had a crochet board and sang “The Eyes of Texas.” I’ll shoot for Texas unless they play Navy.