Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #12

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #12

Roger Staubach has nearly as much competition for the greatest player to wear #12 as Troy Aikman does with #8.

John Roach, QB, SMU, 1964

Statistics: Roach started four games in 1964. He completed only 47.1 percent of his passes for 349 yards with 1 TD and 6 Ints.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Roach ended his career with the Cowboys after having played several seasons with the Chicago/St. Louis Cardinals and then with Green Bay. He only lasted one year in Dallas.

Intangibles: Roach was brought in to provide a veteran backup for Don Meredith. However, his performance was lackluster, and he was replaced in 1965 by Craig Morton.

Roger Staubach, QB, Navy, 1969-1979

Statistics: In 11 seasons with Dallas, Staubach threw for 22,700 yards and 153 touchdowns. At the time of Staubach’s retirement in 1979, only Otto Graham had a higher career passer rating than Staubach.

Accolades: 6 Pro Bowls, 5-time All-Pro, Ring of Honor, Hall of Fame.

Longevity: After missing five seasons due to commitments to the Navy, Staubach joined the Cowboys in 1969. He spent two seasons as Craig Morton’s backup before taking over the starting job midway through the 1971 season. He remained the starter for the next nine seasons.

Intangibles: Staubach proved he was a winner even as his supporting cast changed throughout the decade of the 1970s. When Dallas won its second Super Bowl title of the decade in 1977, only two starters from the 1971 squad remained– Staubach and tackle Ralph Neely. Few quarterbacks have been so successful while leading a team through a transition period as Staubach during that decade.


Here are the results of the poll for this number:

Greatest #12

  • Roger Staubach (96%, 215 Votes)
  • John Roach (4%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 223

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If you still want to vote, please make a comment below.

My Vote: Staubach

Roger StaubachAikman won one more Super Bowl title and surpassed Staubach in most of the major statistical categories. But unlike Aikman, Staubach was always a winner, having never suffered through a losing season as a pro, even with his supporting cast changing around him. And also unlike Aikman, Staubach improved as his career progressed, transitioning from a running quarterback to a prolific passer by his final season as a pro.

Getting back on point: he was better than John Roach.

  • Tim Truemper

    It is interesting to note that Roger’s best season as far as yardage was his last. If it not for the concussions, I think he could have played 3-4 more years. He was in great condition and was a great natural athlete. And a great guy to boot.

  • Roger Staubach is arguable the greatest Dallas Cowboy of All Time. I’m not sure I would put any other player above him, perhaps Bob Lilly is on par but if I had to decide between the two, I pick Roger Staubach. I am so fortunate to be old enough to have watched him play in his prime. I feel a bit sorry for the younger fans who only know the stories about his achievments. The thing that stands out most in my mind about Roger Staubach was you just knew the team was coming back if they were behind late in the game when Roger was playing. Today we hope the Cowboy can come back, we think they can come back, but when Roger played – we KNEW, and so did the the other team and their FANS! There was a confidence that Roger Staubach impressed upon every player, coach and fan! The Cowboys were NEVER out of it. Roger invented the 2 minute drill! It’s ironic that he did just that in his final regular season game. Two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes vs the Redskins to win 35-34. The best part of that comeback was, I knew Roger was gonna lead the Cowboys back! The Cowboys team knew he was gonna do it and the Redskins knew he was gonna do it! And he did, Roger always did. He never disappointed.

    I agree that Staubach could have played a few more years but he was smart enough to know when to quit. He did some broadcasting for a year or two afterwards but his real estate company, which is involved with corporate real estate I think, as well as his Nascar Racing team (Hall of Fame Racing) keeps him busy.

  • Fred Goodwin

    An oldie but goodie: Roger, DBs, and Heaven

    I came across this nugget by Roger Staubach, and thought it was too good not to share:


    Monday, Jan. 31, 1972

    The Dallas Cowboys’ Roger Staubach turns out to be as fast with a theological hot potato as he is with a football. At a post-Super Bowl press conference Roger was expatiating on his Christian principles when a reporter asked him if he thought there were zone defenses “up there.” Staubach: “From what I understand, every pass is a touchdown up there.” Reporter: “If you’re a defensive back, every pass wouldn’t be a touchdown.” Staubach: “They don’t have any defensive backs up there.”

  • Many thanks for posting that story, Fred. Great stuff.

  • ken

    Again with the fools who pick someone else than Staubach. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU IDIOTS?

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  • WildheartsFan

    For years, I was always under the impression that John Roach was the last Cowboy to wear #12 before Staubach. I was recently informed that punter Ron Widby wore #12 during the 1968 season ………. can anyone confirm this?

  • Widby wore #12 in 1968, one year before Staubach joined the Cowboys’ roster. At one point I ran across a shot Widby punting while wearing #12, but I’ll have to see where I saw that (I think it is on the 1968 highlight film).

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  • Andy R


    There is also a team-issued photo in the 60’s of Jerry Rhome wearing #12.

  • Curt Ryle

    Let’s not forget, Roger Staubach played as a starter for 9 years and led the Cowboys to 5 superbowls!! Definetly the greatest Football player who ever played the game

  • Carrol Carter

    A great, great quarterback. The likes of his caliber we can see in Peyton Manning. The difference then was a good Dallas offensive line. Mr. Manning lacks that advantage today.