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Mary, Cincy, and an Immortal Phrase

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Purcell Alumni Roger Staubach originated “Hail Mary” pass

In 1975, a devout Catholic athlete from Cincinnati and the Mother of Christ connected on the gridiron.

Roger Staubach, star Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Cincinnati Purcell High School graduate, was 50 yards from pay-dirt with 24 seconds to play in a National Football Conference (NFC) divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Viking at Minnesota.

It was fourth down. Staubach launched the ball toward wide receiver Drew Pearson.

“Hail Mary, full of grace….,” Staubach beseeched in prayer as he lofted the pigskin skyward. Pearson caught it: Touchdown! Victory!

Earlier this year, Staubach told USA Today writer Jarrett Bell: “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.”
Bell explained Staubach was not the first person to use the term in sports, “but he’s the one who ignited the use if ‘Hail Mary’ on a wide spread basis. Before Staubach-to-Pearson, those desperate heaves were referred to as a ‘bomb’ or an ‘alley-oop’ pass.

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

The NFL All-Star told USA Today: “Now (Hail Mary) is a term used for everything. Politicians and everybody else use it.”

Staubach told People Magazine his “religious convictions were shaped early as a schoolboy in Cincinnati, where his father, a wholesale shoe salesman, was a devout Catholic. By the time Roger got to the Naval Academy at Annapolis, he was attending (Mass) every morning.”

In a story by Philip Kosloski at Aleteia, a Catholic publication, the author notes: “Staubach became involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while serving in the Navy and remains a sought-after speaker who is not afraid to tell others about the Good News of Jesus Christ. A few years ago, while addressing students at a Catholic school’s career day in Dallas, Staubach encouraged those present to remain strong in the faith through any adversity.”

According to Kosloski, Staubach told the assembled students: “Life has its twists and turns. The important thing is having the perseverance to maintain your faith and do the right things as you deal with the obstacles. There will be challenges that you will face, but you are going to help each other and you are going to get through it and people are going to help you.”

Recalling his famous “Hail Mary pass,” Staubach told the students: “The Blessed Virgin is very proud of me. We have a great relationship because of that.”



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