Roger Staubach reflects on meeting JFK

Long before he donned the Cowboys’ star and became a national sports icon, Roger Staubach burst on the college football scene in 1962. Among his fans, a fellow navy man and our nation's 35th president: John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

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by JOE TRAHAN

WFAA

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 10:53 AM

DALLAS –– Long before he donned the Cowboys’ star and became a national sports icon, Roger Staubach burst on the college football scene in 1962. Among his fans, a fellow navy man and our nation's 35th president: John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

"He became really close to our team relatively speaking on a good basis," said Staubach in a recent interview at his Dallas office.

President Kennedy made a special visit to see the Navy team at their preseason camp in 1962, and was in the stands later that year when they faced their archrival, Army.

Staubach says he was a nervous wreck, but still led Navy to a dominating win over Army that year, prompting another presidential face-to-face in the locker room after the game.

"It was pretty neat having him there," said Staubach. "Just (him) being at the game was great."

Staubach won the 1963 Heisman Trophy as the nation's best player, but his memory of the late-November announcement was completely over-shadowed, as the nation stood in stunned silence on November 22, 1963 –– the day JFK died.

Like most, Staubach remembers exactly where he was.

"I heard people screaming in the hall that the president's been shot," said Staubach. "And as I'm walking to class down Stribling Walk, people were yelling back and forth that he's been shot and it doesn't look good.

"Everybody was sick. You didn't care about football you didn't care about the Heisman you didn't care about anything. Just wondering what the heck is going on here,” he said.

Staubach is also the subject of an interesting piece of memorabilia. The original cover of the November 29, 1963 edition of Life magazine featured Navy's Heisman winner. Staubach got a copy of it just hours before Kennedy was killed.

A limited number of the Staubach cover editions were produced, but the final edition that week had to be re-worked and the fallen President was pictured on the cover.

In the wake of the assassination, the Army-Navy game was postponed a week. At the urging of the Kennedy family, the game was still played and Staubach and company earned bragging rights again.

"There was really a void even though we won," said Staubach.

Staubach says memories are still vivid 50 years later and that 1963 team remains close because of all the watershed moments –– good and bad –– they experienced together.

Email: jtrahan@wfaa.com

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