Nobody can question Roger Staubach’s ability to perform in the clutch. The Hall of Famer took the Dallas Cowboys to four Super Bowls during his career in the 1970s, winning two of the four title games. He also finished with an 11-6 record all-time in postseason play.
Now he’s getting ready to watch two of the most clutch quarterbacks in recent times, Tom Brady and Eli Manning, duke it out in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday. Staubach compares Brady to Joe Montana in the way he always seems to utilize his weapons perfectly. He doesn’t have a comparison for Manning, but admires the way he transfers his confidence over to his teammates.
Roger Staubach joined 980 ESPN in Washington DC with The Sports Reporters to discuss his Super Bowl memories, if the losses stick with him more than the victories, if he was nervous before games, measuring clutchness, comparing Brady to Eli Manning and the lingering effects of concussions.
You started at quarterback in four Super Bowls. Which ones stick with you, the two victories or two losses?:
“I try to forget about those losses, but the Steelers were pretty good back in those days. … Especially if you hadn’t won one, then it would gnaw on you a lot worse. I still am very grateful and have always been grateful for what you have, but try to achieve more. We won two and losing twice to the Steelers, especially the second one. … I definitely think about that game and what could’ve happen, but we also won two big Super Bowl games, so nobody could say we can’t win them.”
Were you nervous before those games?:
“I was always nervous before a game, but it was a healthy nervousness. I think you need to be, if you’re a competitor, you should be nervous. You start going back into your execution and the things you have to do and don’t have all the other things that happen before a game. Once you’re kind of in control and making decisions, it starts to go away.”
How do you measure clutchness? Eli Manning is 7-1 in the postseason:
“I think the first thing that really takes place if you’re a clutch player, that first of all you know that you’ve put a lot of effort and hard work into it and you know you’re going to be the best that you can. Then, that confidence that you have, you have to transfer that over, especially in football, to the other guys. … As a quarterback, a lot of it is your own confidence, but your will in being able to transfer that confidence to your teammates. It’s a mental game for a quarterback and players can see you’re in control and you’re going to make these things happen.”
Who do you give the edge to between Brady and Manning right now?:
“I think the only edge is Brady’s been in four Super Bowls and won three of them and Eli’s won his. Eli, there’s just something about him that you think it’s not Eli’s time and he makes the big play. Brady’s pretty consistent. I think with this Gronkowski, hopefully he gets back in there, he’s got some great weapons and knows where to go to them, too. That was the greatness of [Joe] Montana. He just didn’t make mistakes. He went to the right receivers but he had good weapons. That’s the same with Tom Brady. … Eli is someone that has proven that just when you think you’ve got him under control, he turns on you.”
Concussions have became a big topic in the NFL. You had a few. Have they affected you going forward?:
“I had one my first game. I came out of the Navy and was playing for the Cowboys against the Green Bay Packers. It was an exhibition game and I was showing Coach Landry that I could be a running successful quarterback and instead of running out of bounds I cut back in and Ray Nitschke knocked me out. That was my first concussion. My last year I had two and in between I probably had five or six other ones. Those were concussions where I was knocked out, lost everything and didn’t go back in the game. … The good news on my concussions, hopefully, is that I didn’t have lingering effects after the next day. Concussions, you need to get a benchmark after the first one.”