For years, they were on each other's enemies list, the consummate quarterback of the Cowboys and the conniving coach of the Redskins.
"Run at your own risk, Roger Staubach," George Allen would say before every Cowboy confrontation. "Scramble and we'll scramble your head. And by the way, Rog, they put in the shotgun because you can't read our defenses." b
Down Dallas way, Roger Staubach would bristle at the taunts of his Redskin tormentor. "I always wanted to make George eat his words, even though I knew he was just trying to get me riled up," he said once. "I tried not to pay any attention. After awhile I laughed about it. But George was a pretty devious guy. There was no love lost between us."
But now Roger Staubach and George Allen are teammates, so to speak, both in the broadcast booth where they will toil this season for CBS. They may even work a Cowboy-Ram game together. Roger and George. Side by side.
Can you believe it, Diron?
"On the air, I'm gonna' ask him a question -- what will you do in this situation, Roger? And then I'll tell him exactly how I'd play defense against him," George Allen chortled into the telephone.
But then, Allen also turned deadly serious.
"Oh sure, I said all those things for a reason," Allen said. "It was part of my pre-game planning and psychology. First of all, I really didn't want him to run. I wanted him to know he'd pay the price. I knew he was a conscientious and intelligent person, but I thought some of it would rub off on him. Roger was such a great competitor, it had to make him mad. And if he was angry, maybe he would do something he wasn't supposed to do.
"I'll tell you something else, if I were coaching football today, I would call Tex Schramm (the Cowboys president and general manager) and try to make a trade for Roger. I don't care how old he is (38). If I was coaching, that phone would be buzzing.I'd want that guy on my side.
"When I came to Washington in 1971, our No. 1 goal was to defeat the Dallas Cowboys. And if we were gonna' do that, we had to defeat Roger Staubach. We always knew we'd have a battle with him.
"I always had the greatest respect for Roger. Oh I know what I used to say, but he was the key. You know, I believe he had the highest quarterback rating in the NFL, but if you go back and check, against the Redskins when I coached he was about 48 percent passing.
"But I hate to see guys like Roger get out of the game. Geez, they're what makes the NFL so great. How would I rank Roger? He's in my top four or five all-time quarterbacks. That's right. I'd rank him with Unitas, Bart Starr. He was a winner. That's what you say about Roger. A winner."
Certainly faithful followers of the Redskins know that all too well.
How many times did they see Staubach, his team trailing in the fourth quarter, summon up all his skills, his savvy, his sense of survival, and rally the Cowboys back into the football game?
Staubach's last game against the team he loved to hate may well have been his finest fling. In the fianl two minutes of a game the Redskins had to win to make the playoffs, Staubach merely threw two touchdown passes to strike the fatal stake into the hearts of the Redskins and their forlorn fans -- a 35-34 Cowboy victory.
There were so many other come-from-behind frantic finishes from the master of the cardiac comeback. Over the years, Staubach pulled out 23 victories despite trailing going into the fourth quarter. In 14 of those games, he won the game in the final two minutes.
Nobody ever really did it much better, even if Tom Landry was calling the plays. Early in his career, Staubach admitted he would have preferred to call his own game. But as the victories and the championships piled up, "I accepted it," he said. "It worked. How could I disagree with a system that was so successful."
He also accepted all the hurt and pain that went with his profession. Once, a visitor from Washington gasped when he looked down at the little finger of Staubach's right hand, a joint that had a V-bend smack in the middle, the victim of a stray helmet. "Actually," Staubach said, "it gives me a better grip on the ball. It only hurts when it rains."
Still, as the years went by, Staubach's injuries mounted. Particularly frightening were the number of concusions suffered, seven alone in 1979. But almost always, Roger Staubach came back for more, the next week.
"It's very rare you'll see a guy as totally dedicated to his job, with such a competitive spirit and the physical ability to go with it," Schramm one said.
"You'll find two out of three with most guys, but never will you find a guy so singlemindedly dedicated. He competes in everything he does. He's a champion, there's no question about it. And even more important, he's a wonderful human being."
Yes he is.
He quit in large part because he did not want his family fretting about another knockout to the head, another busted rib or separated shoulder. And he quit at the top of his game.
A few years ago, he was asked how he'd like to be remembered, and his answer tells you everything you could ever want to know about the man.
"Twenty years from now, maybe I'll be remembered as a pretty good athlete," he said. "But I hope I'm remembered for more than that, as a person who cared about people and had them care about him."