Financial Lessons From the Richest Super Bowl Winner

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Cowboys Staubach
APRoger Staubach won two Super Bowls and earned big bucks outside the NFL.
With his movie star looks, supermodel wife and extraordinary athletic skills, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- named the most valuable player in Super Bowl XLIX -- has become a celebrity and pop icon.

Fame -- and the fortune that accompanies it -- is common for professional football players. But the wealthiest NFL players -- past and present -- are the quarterbacks who have hoisted the Lombardi trophy high over their head. This list includes Brady, Joe Montana, John Elway, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and others.

The richest Super Bowl winner, with an estimated net worth of $600 million, is former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, inventor of the term "Hail Mary pass." Staubach spent 11 seasons in the NFL, all with the Cowboys, winning five NFC championships and two Super Bowls and appearing in the Pro Bowl six times. But it's not his NFL career that made him his fortune.

It All Started With His Side Hustle

In 1969, when Staubach joined the Cowboys as a 27-year-old rookie –- having spent the previous four years serving in Vietnam -– his salary was only $25,000. Staubach decided he needed to both increase his income and ensure that he would have a job after his football career was over, so in the off-season of 1971 he took a job in the insurance division of Dallas real estate powerhouse Henry S. Miller.

"If I was a single guy, I would have played golf and done all the things you do in the off-season," said Staubach. "But I had a wife and three kids, so I made up my mind to try and work in the off-season. I had a degree in engineering from the Navy, but I wanted to get involved in sales, so I took a job with a real estate firm."

For the first few years he worked strictly on commission, both to dispel any appearance of favoritism and to have his afternoons free to practice with the Cowboys. Still, the idea of a celebrity having a second job was hard to fathom.

Staubach took his second career so seriously that after winning Super Bowl IV -– in which he was named MVP -– the first thing he did upon arriving back in Dallas from New Orleans was report to his office for work. There he was greeted with a telegram from Miller himself saying, "Congratulations on winning the Super Bowl. And by the way, you're promoted to vice president."

Off On His Own

In 1977, a few years before retiring from football, he went off on his own and opened the Starbach Company. He was persuaded by business associates to attach his name to the company. However, as the company expanded beyond Texas, that name often became a liability.

"Whenever someone hung up on me in Washington, D.C., I'd blame it on the fact that they're a Redskins fan," said Staubach, also noting that when he opened his first office in Washington, echoes of "Staubach sucks" were frequently heard in the halls of the building.

In the early '80s, his business took off, largely due to his ability to identify and take advantage of opportunities, something he learned from football. In high school, Staubach was a wide receiver until his coach came to him and said, "Roger, you're the only one the guys listen to, so I'm going to make you a quarterback." Seizing that opportunity led to his storied NFL career.

An Exclusive Arrangement

In 1974, while handling the Xerox (XRX) account for Miller, Staubach had to find the company commercial space in Dallas. During that process, he realized most commercial real estate brokers worked on behalf of property owners, not prospective tenants. Staubach seized that opportunity and in the late '70s began exclusively representing tenants.

Eventually the Staubach Co. grew to have 50 offices and over 1,100 employees. In a bid to take the business international, Staubach sold to Jones Lange LaSalle for $663 million in 2008.

Over the years, Staubach had numerous opportunities to change careers, perhaps transition into something less strenuous, like when Tex Schramm asked him to join a rival bid to acquire the Cowboys in 1988. He was also a favorite of politicians who encouraged him to run for mayor of Dallas, governor of Texas and the U.S. Senate. George W. Bush even asked him to be Secretary of the Navy.

But Staubach's passion was in real estate and his loyalty was to those in his company. And the secret to his success? "It was a gradual process," says Staubach. "Things don't happen overnight. It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to get spectacular results. I learned a lot in those years with the Henry Miller Co. and it made a big difference in terms of credibility when I started my own real estate firm."

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