The Hall of Fame quarterback said, “You don’t have to be Jewish to understand Israel’s singular status and to support it as a nation and an idea.”
By United with Israel Staff
Roger “The Dodger” Staubach was honored with the 2019 American-Israel Friendship Award at the Bnai Zion Foundation’s annual Texas Gala on Monday. The recognition came for his staunch support of Israel and other Zionist causes.
The Heisman Trophy winner is considered a legend based on his 11-season NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys, leading them to the Super Bowl five times, four of which he played as starting quarterback. He also built a successful career in real estate following his retirement from the NFL.
The Bnai Zion Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in the United States, that identifies and funds projects in Israel. The Staubach event benefited the Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa.
Staubach’s Israel Connection
Ahead of the award ceremony, Staubach wrote an article for the Dallas Morning News in which he described his connection to Israel.
He explained that his “first link to Israel” was purchasing Israel Bonds while a student at the US Naval Academy because they were affordable. “Watching them grow and mature, alongside the country itself, had me wanting to do more,” he wrote.
Staubach noted that, following the Catholic Church’s support of the Jewish people in 1965, it took the Vatican over 40 years to “publish another landmark document, calling upon Catholics to stop trying to convert Jews and to instead work with them to fight anti-Semitism.
“So my Catholic roots have always helped me see the importance of an Israeli homeland….The last three popes have repeatedly stated that the covenant with the Jewish people is irrevocable.”
Football and Philanthropy
Staubach wrote that, through playing football he learned to work hard. He explained that football and financial success have “allowed [him] to pursue opportunities close to my heart” and “improv[e] the lives of others.”
The generous supporter of Israeli projects wrote, “The money I made from real estate enabled me to invest in Israeli startups, which means something to me because I know what it takes to be able to run with an idea. It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to have spectacular results in both business and football.”
Staubach said that following his projects building tennis courts in Israel in the 70s “giving to Israel became a constant goal.”
In 2017, Staubach visited Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with a group of NFL Hall of Famers. He participated in coaching and mentoring “some of the 2,000 players in Israel’s various leagues and see[ing] them in action.”
Noting that “American football has seen a huge boost in the 12 years since the launch of the Israel Football League,” Staubach believes, “It seems to have resonated with native-born Israelis who respond to the camaraderie, collisions and the military-like strategy of the game.”
He wrote that he was particular inspired by Israel’s Innovation Expo, which showcases the country’s leadership in technology and innovation.
“As a country, Israel has been the beneficiary of the more than 1 million educated immigrants who have helped foster an entrepreneurial spirit that has fueled amazing innovation,” he wrote. “The same mental discipline and strategy that goes into national defense has driven technology innovation.”
He ends his op-ed in the Dallas Morning News with, “Israel is a very special place that represents so many faiths. It covers everyone and everything, and you don’t have to be Jewish to understand its singular status and to support it as a nation and an idea.”
Staubach gained several nicknames over his football career, one of which was “Captain Comeback” for game-winning heroics that won improbable victories for the Dallas Cowboys. Israel eagerly awaits this staunch supporter’s next “comeback”–a return to the Holy Land for another visit!
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