Roger Staubach Speaks about Concussions, CTE, and Losing

Roger Staubach and his son Jeff sat down with KTCK-AM to have a real candid talk about the two-time Super Bowl champ's history as well as the state of pro football today. Here are a few highlights:


On missing the playoffs once in 11 years while today's 'Boys can only win two playoff games in 11: "It's a different deal. You have free agency. You have a lot of different deals that work against you as far as keeping a team together. Back then, it was like two different eras. I had the Don Meredith era with [Bob] Lilly and [Mel] Renfro. And then we had a whole new team after '75 except for maybe Charlie Waters, Cliff [Harris], and I. And there's only a few of us that played in that first Super Bowl [V]. So, it was great drafting with Tony Hill, [Tony] Dorsett, Randy White, Harvey Martin. They were great. When I left the team in '79, I left it to a really great quarterback in Danny White. So, we didn't lose anything at quarterback."


On being a "good loser": "You've got to understand that you're not going to be successful in what you're trying to do. But you can't be a sore loser but you don't like to lose. And there's a big difference in being a sore loser. The sore loser has a hard time recouping. A good loser can't wait until the next opportunity. I always, when we lost, I was miserable. But I could not wait until the next chance because you have to understand losing too. It's part of life."


On the link between CTE and football: "I think that the studies that they are doing now, I think they have really been important. Even in the past, I got knocked out six times where I was on the field knocked out. And then there's the dingers and stuff. And those six times when I came off the field and figured out what life was all about, I never went back in the game. So, they at least knew. The trouble is back then you would get these dingers where you get confused. Today, you would stay out of the game, and they benchmark your concussion. So, they're doing the right thing today. It's like your brain has to heal just like the other parts of your body. In the old days, I usually just felt better the next day. And, so, I was ready to play again and there's no more test. I never had an MRI. Of course, I don't think there were MRI's that early on. They did CAT scans my last year. But today, they benchmark the concussion. So, football, it's a brutal game. I think the rules are helping not allowing the helmets as a weapon today. The equipment is better, but it's not going to be perfect. But at least they are trying to make sure that they rest you after you've been knocked out or you're confused and they can benchmark it with these MRI's. So, it's still going to be a game that's not perfect that you're -- it's a physical deal. You know, F = ma. That's the only thing I remember from my engineering days."


On his first ever concussion: "Actually, my first concussion was in my very first game I played as a rookie. It was an an exhibition game. Ray Nitschke knocked me out. I should have run out of bounds, but I made a move and cut back inside and the next thing I knew I was in the car with my wife after the game. So, it is good that they are doing all of this today. And when that ma, the mass, the players are bigger, the forces, you know, you get hit harder today. But they're doing things to help; you can't make it perfect."


On his grandchildren playing football: "I don't really get into it. Jeff has a son, he's quick, he's fast, he's in grade school, and maybe his mom feels differently than Jeff. I leave it up to the parents. I don't push it either way. ... Jeff wanted to play football. He played in the eighth grade. He was a good baseball player in high school. He wanted to do something else. I didn't push him away from it. My mother, even back in the old days, I'm growing up and in high school, my mother would be sitting there with a rosary in her hand. She would grab the rosary so hard into her hands that there were marks on her hands. So, she sensed something that was her kid out there getting knocked around is not fun for a parent. But there's other things associated with football that mean a lot to me: teamwork. You learn about perseverance, hard work, how to be successful you've got to work hard in life. Teamwork is caring about someone other than yourself. So, there's a lot of good things in sports. The physical side of it, and I don't blame parents for being worried about it."


You can hear more of the interview here, including why Cowboys fans should thank Gil Brandt for sending the Dodger game film and footballs in care packages when Staubach served his country in Vietnam.

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