DONUT 1: The Super Season is here.
To every member of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee family, The Super Season, culminating on Sunday with Super Bowl XLV at Arlington's Cowboys Stadium, is greatly anticipated, a pinnacle of their occupational existence and a reward for their incredible efforts.
That's especially true of Marianne Staubach.
"She's been great about it, as always, and she's an important part of it all, too,'' says North Texas Super Bowl chairman Roger Staubach of his wife of 44 years, then adding with a laugh, "but deep down in her heart, I bet she can't wait until this Super Bowl is over with.''
DONUT 2: Since the March 2007 awarding of The Big Game to this region, Host Committee chairman Staubach, CEO Bill Lively and literally hundreds and hundreds of North Texans have mapped out this extravaganza, which is expected to have a financial impact of $612 million on the area. Along the way, Staubach – an icon now almost as much for his work in the business and charitable worlds as for his Hall-of-Fame quarterbacking of the Dallas Cowboys – says the committee has absorbed and learned from the rare bumps in the road during the process.
"Even as it regards the naysayers who question that financial impact, we're here to listen and learn,'' Staubach says. "The information we had was given to the state of Texas. They evaluated it, and then plans were based on the impact from there. We're impartial it; whatever results came back, that's what we'd base so much of our work on.''
In the end, though, Staubach notes that the money raised to stage North Texas' first-ever Super Bowl was raised through private means. "The taxpayers really aren't getting hit up on this,'' Staubach says, adding that as the National Football League's regular season is about to launch in September, the event is essentially fully funded – something that isn't usually the case with a proposition as expensive and as expansive as a Super Bowl.
"Even something like a convention being held in Dallas is going to cost the city $1 million,'' Roger continues. "But the Super Bowl? Consider the future people who will come here because of it, consider the future businesses that will come here as a result of it … The tangible part is that $612 million. The intangible part goes beyond the value of the game. It's about the economy and about the pride, and the bonding of so many people. And the fun.
"You talk about hosting a convention … the North Texas Super Bowl will be the biggest convention in the world!''
DONUT 3: Besides the rapidly-scaled learning curve, have there been other bumps in the road toward what will be this Super Season?
"Bill Lively is an inspiration, and he along with everyone else has done a great job of avoiding the politics of a project like this,'' Roger says. "We have the cooperation and participation of not just one or two towns, but every town and every city and every county. I was worried about the politics but that hasn't been an issue.''
Marianne and Roger have been resident of North Texas since Roger joining the Cowboys in 1969. He notes that he has three kids who were "born in the Navy,'' and two more born after moving to Dallas. "But they all speak ‘Texan,'' he jokes. Point being, he is qualified to compare the Super Bowl-related short-term cooperative nature of our region and the long-term potential impact of this project to a landmark piece of regional teamwork that continues to have a daily impact on the world.
"This Super Bowl is probably one of the best things to happen in the whole North Texas region, in terms of working together, than anything we've ever had,'' Staubach says. "Really, it ranks up there with the decision of everyone years ago to work together to build DFW Airport.''
DONUT 4: More Super Bowl XLV bonding came in the form of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, as of his 1989 purchase of the club a sort of "new guard'' seen by some as being in conflict with the "old guard'' that included the ex-quarterback Staubach.
"First of all, let's lay it out there: Jerry Jones has been amazing!'' Staubach says excitedly. "I've had many more dealings with him as part of Super Bowl XLV than I've had before over the years … a very regular basis … and let me tell you, when he says he's going to do something, he does it. It gets done. Ask (Arlington) Mayor (Robert) Cluck: The man built a ($1.2 billion) stadium after finalizing things while we were in the middle of what was essentially a recession.
"Jerry's tough. He's a tough negotiator. But he does what he says he's going to do. And what he's done has been amazing.''
It didn't take Super Bowl XLV to bring together the likes of Staubach and Jones, however.
"All along, Jerry's really understood the history of the Dallas Cowboys,'' says Roger, obviously touched by one of Jones' first moves, the replacement of Staubach coach and mentor Tom Landry. "I knew even then, as that transition took place, that there might be two sides to every story. And at the end of the day, I was a Dallas Cowboy and a Dallas Cowboys fan. I felt like long-term, it might work out … and now, looking back, you see a tie between the old days … you look at what the team did in the 1990's with Troy Aikman and the three Super Bowls … and you look at the team now. It's tied together.''
That "team now'' obviously hopes it is a major part of this Super Season, and Roger – remember, he speaks "Texan'' and he's still a Cowboy and he's still a Cowboys fan – hopes for the same.
DONUT 5: It is obviously a disappointment to the locals that this year's Cowboys fell well short of participating in a Super home game. But there are still some perks for Roger. Staubach's company, Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, a financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate, is involved in Super Bowl parties to entertain clients. … Mr. and Mrs. Staubach and Mr. and Mrs. Aikman in Canton, Ohio, as part of Emmitt Smith's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in August … the Super Bowl involvement of legendary performers like Sting and Faith Hill. …
"My son-in-law is a huge Sting fan, so he got to meet Sting,'' Staubach says, adding with a wink: "And I got to meet Faith Hill.''
DONUT 6: Staubach also had the privilege of throwing out the first pitch of the Texas Rangers 2010 season, a task performed at Rangers Ballpark, a Hail Mary away from Cowboys Stadium. And this was no casual privilege; it was Roger Staubach with the ball again in his control, Roger Staubach again calling his own play, Roger Staubach again in charge.
Before the moment, Nolan Ryan spoke with and advised Roger … you know, icon-to-icon. Ryan informed Staubach that throwing off the mound made the task deceptively difficult, which is why so many ceremonial tossers uncork wobbly, bouncy worm-burners.
Undaunted, Staubach went into the bowels of Rangers Ballpark. He found himself a mound. And he practiced his ceremonial throw.
And then, he unleashed his competitiveness along with the baseball (again, eyeball that photo; do you think Staubach was joking around?) … and fired a strike to the Rangers' Ian Kinsler.
"I had to inform Nolan,'' remembers Staubach, the Heisman Trophy-winning footballer from Navy, "that I'd also played four years of college baseball. Hey, I batted .420 at Navy one year!''
DONUT 7: Before Roger and Marianne know it, the excitement will wind down.
"Yes, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel,'' Roger says before feigning fear, "but that light is getting awful bright.''
Naturally, given the efficiency and passion with which the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee has accomplished this task, the NFL will want to do it again. Jerry Jones anticipates another Super Bowl visit to our region and to Cowboys Stadium, and Staubach envisions the same.
But Roger swears he won't be deeply involved in it.
"No, that'll be Troy's job,'' says Staubach, who says Aikman – already involved in so many ways in this game as a former Cowboys Super Bowl winner, a representative of the region in many ways and the FOX color man for the TV broadcast -- is prepared to assume leadership of future bids.
DONUT 8: Roger swears that one of these days he's going to test the recent surgery performed on his back and return to the pickup basketball court, who swears he's got enough life left in his 68-year-old arm to continue playing touch football, and who really wants to get to work on that 15-handicap.
"My back isn't OK, because of some problems with the L4 and L5 nerves I had to stop some of what I was doing,'' says Roger. "But my arm is OK.''
DONUT 9: Let's do basketball first.
"I need to get back into playing some,'' says Roger, who instead has been spending most of his hoops time as an observer of his favorite team, the Dallas Mavericks.
"I've always been a big Mavs fan,'' Roger says "Mark Cuban's passion about the team is contagious. It's too bad we haven't been able to see enough of the full combination of all the guys (because of the Caron Butler injury), and maybe they need one more spark to compete to go all the way. I hope we get to see some Roddy B … Dirk is amazing, of course. And Jason Kidd is still tough. Even at his age, there is still that quickness and that toughness. That's a 55-win team and it's fun to watch.''
DONUT 10: "I do wonder,'' says a man who was once the football centerpiece of a team labeled "Next Year's Champions,'' "if ever since the loss to Miami (in the 2006 NBA Finals), that it still bothers them. … that they still think about that. I know that their regular-season records should have them going deeper into the playoffs. Hopefully, this is that year.''
DONUT 11: We talk a little golf. I mention to Staubach my connection with the Old American and he mentions his involvement at Dallas National.
"Golf is a great business tool, with customers, and it's easier to pull that off than to try to play basketball with them,'' he says. "But I only have time to play sporadically. I really think if I worked at it, I could get that 15 handicap way down. You gotta play … If I was playing every day, I believe I'd be pretty good. As it is now, I'm a member at Dallas National but my nickname over there is "Stranger.''
The Staubachs see themselves gradually moving into semi-retirement – but I think Roger sees it as more "gradual'' than Marianne does.
"They have some nice golf courses down at Horseshoe Bay, where Marianne and I have a place,'' Roger says. "It'll be good to get away a little bit, eventually.''
DONUT 12: But not until The Super Season is over … and not until one last headache is soothed.
"You want to do all the right things and you want to make everybody happy,'' Staubach says. "But I'm not going to quite be able to do that. Because my biggest headache is all my friends who want me to give them Super Bowl tickets.''