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

roger-staubach-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