NFL Journalist Matt Thornton Talks with Dallas Cowboys Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson
Had someone said to me days ago that I would have the privilege of talking Dallas Cowboys football with Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach and legendary wide receiver Drew Pearson in-person this week, I would have told them they were insane. But, thanks to my good friends at GameDay Sports Tours and my new friends with Drew Pearson Live, the sports “bucket list” moment beyond my wildest dreams came to fruition.
Before I get to the meat of the Staubach/Pearson conversation, forgive me a moment as I provide context as to why my encounter with these two Cowboys legends was so special to me. My Grandfather Joseph Wesley Thornton was born October 27, 1919. He had a tough childhood and put himself through college earning his degree from the University of the Pacific. Grandpa Joe flew for the U.S. Army Air Corps (South Pacific) in World War II and retired after a 32-year career as an executive at Sun Oil Company.
My Grandfather was one of the most influential people in my life. When I struggled in school desiring to go the lazy route, he reminded me how important it was to fulfill my responsibilities. When I grew frustrated with athletics and wanted to give up, he encouraged me to keep trying. With great patience and a loving hand, Grandpa taught a ten year old Matt Thornton perhaps the most difficult sport to play on this planet; golf. If you’ve ever tried to teach an antsy ten-year-old boy anything, you can appreciate how difficult a task my Grandpa undertook. After God, country, and family, the love of my Grandpa’s life was the Dallas Cowboys, and two of Granpa’s all-time favorite players were Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson.
As I stood in the KTXD-TV studio after watching Roger appear as a guest on the Drew Pearson Live television show, I listened intently as my Grandpa’s hero Roger, with his friend Drew standing next to him, told us a personal story about their famed “Hail Mary” pass. Staubach said that he recently held a meeting in New York with the board of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated for which he serves as Executive Chairman. The meeting was with a Chinese company and one of the businessmen from the company being somewhat unfamiliar with American Football politely asked Roger if he “was associated at all with the Hail Mary pass.”
This drew a hearty laugh from my group listening to Roger’s story because Staubach coined the phrase “Hail Mary,” which of course has become one of the most common phrases used in the modern English language. After the laughter died down, Roger said he sent that Chinese executive along with his entire team a t-shirt that explains the origin of the famed “Hail Mary” pass printed on the back.
Staubach did provide some small-talk on the current Dallas Cowboys. He believes that the Cowboys are poised to have another good season. While he said it’s tough to lose a player with such a great attitude on and off the field like DeMarco Murray, he trusts the team can overcome the loss. Cowboys talk aside, perhaps the most endearing moment to me was when Roger stopped and looked his good friend and former teammate Drew Pearson in the eyes and said, “I couldn’t have made the Hall of Fame without great players like you and others. Thank you, Drew.” One could see Staubach’s heartfelt admiration and his gratitude for Pearson was completely sincere. I felt somewhat awkward as a man listening in on a conversation amongst battle-tested friends meant only for their own ears, but I was honored to witness the moment.
Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson were two of my Gradfather’s heroes. My hero was my Grandpa Joe. This October 2nd marks ten years since Grandpa passed away. I can only relive in my memory great moments like the day in 1980 when he took me to my first Dallas Cowboys game, as one example. I would give almost anything to have just a minute of time back with my Grandpa. But today, standing amongst his heroes, for a brief moment I felt like Grandpa was present again, and I will be forever grateful to Roger and Drew for that gift.
Follow Matt Thornton on Twitter: @MattsCowboys