Cowboys Legend Roger Staubach Remembers the Origins of ‘Hail Mary’


It tickles Roger Staubach to realize the staying power of his words.

“Hail Mary.”

That’s what the Hall of Fame quarterback uttered to reporters in describing his 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson to beat the Minnesota Vikings in the closing seconds of a 1975 NFC playoff game.

“When they asked me about it, I think the actual quote was, ‘Well, I guess you could call it a Hail Mary. You throw it up and pray,’“ the Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback reflected Friday for USA TODAY Sports.

Staubach, who grew up as a devout Catholic, wasn’t the first person to use the term as part of a sports explanation, but he’s the one who ignited the use of “Hail Mary” on a widespread basis.

Before Staubach-to-Pearson, those desperate heaves were commonly referred to as a “bomb” or an “alley-oop” pass.

More than 42 years since that magic at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis, “Hail Mary” is such a widely used term that it’s transcended the football world.

“Now it’s a term used for everything,” Staubach said. “Politicians and everybody else use it. One of the worse times I heard it used was when I was watching someone on TV talk about O.J. Simpson, and the commentator said, ‘Man, it’s going to take a Hail Mary for him to get another trial.’”

Then Staubach pondered another possibility.

“I could have said ‘Our Father’ or ‘Glory be,’ “ he said. “But I don’t think ‘Our Father’ would have carried on.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Jarrett Bell