Craig Morton and Roger Staubach, once rivals for the quarterback job with the Dallas Cowboys, were back in the spotlight today as the Cowboys and Denver Broncos began preparations for Super Bowl 12 WTOP-TV-9, 6 p.m.) on Sunday.

"We have always been friends, said Staubach of the man he beat out several years ago. "I respected him when he was my teammate and I certainly respect him now."

Morton, traded by the Cowboys to the New York Giants in 1975, was subsequently dealt to the Broncos before the 1977 season began. He proceeded to have a fine year, guiding the Broncos to the AFC title.

Staubach said today, he thought Morton should not have been made the goat of the Cowboys' 1971 Super Bowl loss to Baltimore. "He had bone chips in his elbow," Staubach said. "But he was a great quarterback for us before he was hurt."

As part of the media attention at Super Bowl week, Morton was the center of some tough questioning about a tax bill sent him recently from the Dallas office of the Internal Revenue Service.

Would it put pressure on him?

"No," he said of the allegation he owes $34,636 for the years 1974, 1975, and 1976, "it's been in the mill for months. It's been taken care of."

It was noted that Morton could take care of most of that by earning the winner's share in the Super Bowl, $32,000 for each player.

"It would go a long way," he said."I originally paid twice that much in December," which, of course, means that his total bill was more than $100,000.

He would not suggest that the timing of the tax bill was anything more than a coincidence, but did point out, "There was no warning statement. It came to my mother, who lives in Dallas, and it gave me 10 days to pay, by Christmas. I'm going to pay it after the Super Bowl.

"They don't know how to send a warning statement, but they know how to collect. I'm not going to talk more about this."

Morton also must appear in Brighton, Colo., by Jan. 25 to answer an allegation by the Manufacturers Trust Company of New York that he owes $38,000 as the result of a judgment against him.

It has been learned that Morton had some bad luck with investments when he was playing in Dallas with the Cowboys.

Morton once had a confrontation with the police in Dallas after an escapade at a gas station. He was a bit of a playboy then and later in New York after he was traded to the Giants. A Dallas source recalls him as preferring to be "one of the boys" as a night person rather than a leader.

That was all before Morton began dating his new wife Susie and "accepting the Lord" last June.

Morton, who has been bothered with hip and thigh injuries said, "I'm not completely healthy but I will be by Sunday. My hip and thigh are excellent. It has not had to be drained this week. It's 300 per cent better. I'll get treatment all week."

A pool reporter at the Bronco practice today related that Morton worked out in pads but left the field early, after the offensive phase of practice, for heat treatments.