By Mark Carpenter –
When I walked up to shake his hand, all I could think of to say was, “I have waited nearly 50 years for this moment.” Not earth shattering words by any means, but they summed up what I was thinking when I finally got the chance to meet the sports hero of my youth. Growing up, I lived and died with the exploits of Roger Staubach and the Dallas Cowboys and last Friday night I got the opportunity to meet the real “Captain America.”
It wasn’t a cheap meeting by any means, but worth every penny to me. I was wise enough to pull a Dallas Cowboys tie out of my collection and Roger loved it, actually grabbing my tie and commenting that he had never seen one like it before. Roger Staubach grabbed my tie! OK, that may seem minor to you but to me, it was a moment to remember. Now, if you know me well, you know how I am not real fond of having my picture taken and my family often chastises me for not smiling in photos, so when it came time for the photo op with Roger, the pressure was on. I couldn’t mess this photo up, I likely will never get another chance. So, Roger put his arm around me, I smiled, and I have a photo for the ages.
My Dad was my companion on Friday night for this dinner/benefit which was held at the Montgomery Inn, emceed by the one and only Bill Cunningham and attended by many whose shoes were probably worth more than my entire checking account. Anyway, I don’t remember when my admiration for #12 began, but I think my parents may have had something to do with it. When I was growing up, my family owned and operated a baby shoe factory in Higginsport and Roger’s Dad was a salesman who often visited my family’s business. I can only assume that the name “Staubach” was thrown around in our home after Roger became a Heisman winner and then a Cowboy, and I assume that I took it from there.
Today I don’t idolize professional athletes like I did in my youth, mainly because I grew up and they don’t make them like Roger any more. For two hours on Friday night, I was 15 again, watching a big video board of Staubach highlights and listening to Roger talk about some of his most memorable moments on the gridiron. I could have listened to him all night and even Cunningham did a great job asking him questions. From his most memorable high school moments to barely passing the eye test to get in the Naval Academy, to his relationship with Coach Landry, and the thrills and agony of winning and losing Super Bowls, Roger covered it all and it was great. Well, he was great, the greatest in my eyes.
I can still remember the day that Roger announced his retirement. I don’t know who shed more tears, me or him. I had no clue what I was going to do with football without #12 and when Coach Landry was shown the door, I was done with “America’s Team” until a few years ago when I discovered that the DNA had been passed on and I had a son who was growing up a Cowboys fan, like his Dad because of the quarterback. Someday I hope he gets Tony Romo to grab his tie. He will never forget it.