Value of Hard Work



Daughter of Roger Staubach

Ours was a large, loud, loving family. I look back and marvel that my parents could keep us all happy and healthy as my dad’s career moved from the Navy to training camp to professional football. I remember when my mother would bravely haul my two sisters and me to Texas Stadium to see my dad play for the Dallas Cowboys. Imagine keeping little ones occupied and out of trouble throughout the game! But she brought us to see my father play as often as she could.  Afterward, we’d anxiously wait for him to come out of the locker room. We were so excited to see him. Even at a young age, I recognized how much the fans admired him and I was so proud he was my dad. He’d walk up the ramp and embrace us all. If you know Texas, you know it’s a football-mad state. To fans of the Dallas Cowboys, my father is a hero to this day. But to me, the tired, thoughtful athlete quietly leaving the stadium was just Dad coming home with us after a hard day’s work. 

My father always worked very, very hard – and still does to this day.  Due to his four years of service in the Navy including one year in Vietnam, there is still the military man in my father; a deep love for his country and a disciplined, orderly approach to getting the job done, remain hallmarks of his character.  His natural ability made him a gifted football player, but his dedication to hard work made him a football legend. “Adversity is God’s way of handing you an opportunity,” and “there’s no traffic on the extra mile,” were two of Dad’s favorite sayings, and he practiced what he preached. I don’t know if the thousands of people who watched him lead the Dallas Cowboys to victory knew just how hard Dad worked before each and every game, but I did. I watched my father study plays and strategy night after night and learned a lesson in perseverance that benefits me to this day.  That’s how Dad taught – not by words but by example.

 This dedication of committing one hundred percent to your goals, of giving it your all even when there are no cheering crowds to offer encouragement, is a lesson I continued to learn from my father as I grew up. Fresh out of college, I got a job in Atlanta that did not offer me the opportunity to use the skills I’d learned, or thought I’d learned; in fact, it called for a huge amount of grunt work. On one of my dad’s trips to Atlanta we met for dinner and I told him how disappointed I was. His response was quick and to the point: hard work is an opportunity – don’t complain about it or try to avoid it. Starting out in your career requires perseverance.  Push through and see what you’re made of.

For my dad, life after football did not mean an easy retirement. Professional athletes then did not earn the stratospheric salaries that they do today. With five children to raise during and after his football career, my dad had to find a way to make a living outside of football. To a large extent, he had to start from scratch and forge a new path to success. That he not only found another career in commercial real estate but in fact launched a highly successful and respected business is no surprise to me or anyone else who knows him. The same deeply ingrained work ethic, the same dedication to doing the right thing no matter how much effort it takes, has carried my father from success on the football field to success in the business world.  

A few years ago, my father came to me with the opportunity to become the general counsel of his company.  I was hesitant – was there really a general counsel role that fit my years of experience in private law practice or did my dad just want me to join his company? I decided to give it a try and found that yes, there really was a lot I could do for my father and the company. It’s deeply satisfying to be able to offer my advice and support to my dad and have it accepted and to contribute to a business he has built for over thirty years. Most important, it has been an opportunity to give back to him after all the love and care he lavished on me. 

Still, the transition from being his little girl to being a respected colleague took some time for both of us to accept.  In one of our first meetings at the company, I decided that in the business world it would be appropriate to address my father as, “Roger.” He was somewhat taken aback by this. “I’m your Dad!” was his from-the-heart response. But I’m also an adult and a competent professional in a business setting and he understood that, too. So now he’s “Roger” in meetings and “Dad” when it’s just him and me. 

Through his example, my father taught me how to strive to be a hard-working, honorable human being. He taught me to be strong and independent. He taught me about the value of commitment through his devotion to my mother and their forty-three year marriage, his family, his abiding faith and his work. So I’ve found a way to enjoy my father’s love and guidance even as I forge my own unique path with my own family and future. I have a clear sense of who I am and what I want out of life, but I treasure the love and guidance my father still gives me as we work side by side.

Roger Staubach, a.k.a., “Roger the Dodger,” “Captain Comeback,” is a businessman, Heisman Trophy winner, former American professional football player where he was the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys for most of the 1970s, and former Officer in the United States Navy. Staubach helped lead the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl victory and as a result he was named MVP in Super Bowl VI. He first achieved national attention when he was named the starting quarterback of the Navy football team in 1962.

After his required service in the United States Navy, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, Staubach joined the Dallas Cowboys. He led the club to four Super Bowl appearances, with victories in Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII.

Stephanie Phillips works as General Counsel for the Staubach Company. She lives in Dallas with her husband and their two young children.