COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl MVP Roger Staubach headlines the 2016 class of inductees into the NJCAA Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame announced Monday. The New Mexico Military product is joined by another former NFL star in Antonio Gibson of Hinds (Miss.) and long-time NJCAA defensive coordinator Joe Roman.
Player – New Mexico Military
There are few quarterbacks in the history of the game of football that developed into larger than life heroes like Roger Staubach. Earning iconic nicknames such as “Roger the Dodger” for his exceptional scrambling ability, “Captain Comeback” for his memorable late-game heroics and “Captain America” for his war-time service in the United States Navy and leadership of the Dallas Cowboys – America’s Team – the legend of Staubach began on the practice fields of New Mexico Military.
A three-sport star for the Broncos during the 1960-61 academic year, Staubach earned NJCAA All-America honors in football, baseball and all-conference distinction in basketball. In his lone season on the New Mexico Military gridiron, Staubach threw nine touchdown passes and ran for nine more. The Broncos went 9-1 that season – with their only loss coming at the hands of top-ranked Cameron (Okla.) – and finished the year No. 3 in the South division of the NJCAA Coaches Poll.
In 1961, Staubach transferred to the United States Naval Academy where he would become one of the greatest players to ever suit up for the Midshipmen. In three seasons in Annapolis, the NJCAA-transfer threw for 18 touchdowns and compiled a school-record 4,253 yards of offense. As a junior in 1963, Staubach became the first former NJCAA student-athlete to receive the Heisman Trophy after leading Navy to a 9-1 record and a No. 2 final ranking. Staubach’s No. 12 jersey was retired at his graduation ceremony and he was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1965, Staubach opted not to request assignment in the United States and volunteered to serve as a supply corps officer at Chu Lai Base in Vietnam where he commanded 41 enlisted men. Returning from Vietnam in 1967, the officer served out the remained of his commitment in America before returning to the gridiron.
Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1964, Staubach finally got the opportunity to join the team in 1969 at the conclusion of his service. In 11 years at the helm of the franchise that would earn the moniker of “America’s Team”, Staubach won two Super Bowls – earning MVP honors in Super Bowl VI – and made six Pro Bowl appearances. He threw for 22,700 yards and 153 touchdowns in Dallas. His legacy with the Cowboys was cemented in 1983 when he was inducted into the team’s legendary Ring of Honor. In 1985, Staubach received the coveted gold jacket when he was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Player – Hinds (MS)
Widely considered to be among the greatest players to suit up for Hinds, Antonio Gibson graced the gridiron with his presence for over a decade. From his time in the NJCAA to a successful professional career, Gibson established himself as an elite player in the secondary.
Gibson developed into a highly-coveted prospect during his two seasons in Raymond, Mississippi, earning all-conference recognition from the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC). Sought after by NCAA FBS – formerly Division I-A – programs across Mississippi and the Midwest, the former Eagles defensive back inked with the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Ron Zook, Gibson earned All-America honors in the 1981 and 1982 seasons when he was also named Cincinnati’s most outstanding defensive player. At the conclusion of his time with the Bearcats, Gibson decided to continue his playing career professionally in the newly formed United States Football League (USFL).
Joining the Philadelphia Stars for their inaugural season in 1983, Gibson spent three seasons in the USFL. The Hinds product won two league championships with the Stars before the team folded after the 1985 season. That would not be the end of the road for Gibson, however, as the New Orleans Saints hired former Stars head coach Jim Mora, Sr., who wanted his prize defensive back to come with him to the NFL.
Starting for the Saints at safety, Gibson experienced immediate success and was named to the Football Digest NFL All-Rookie Team in 1986. After four seasons in New Orleans, he joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1990 and later the Birmingham Fire of the NFL Europe league. Gibson returned to the Saints briefly in 1992 before hanging it up.
Coach – DuPage (IL)
For nearly three decades, Joe Roman spent his time coaching NJCAA student-athletes from across the nation. Departing the association with a number of achievements that cemented his legacy in the lore of two-year college football, Roman continues to work towards promoting the sport of football.
Beginning his career at DuPage in 1975 as the team’s defensive coordinator, Roman began a legacy that will long be remembered in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Serving as the team’s defensive coordinator, Roman help put the Chaparrals on the national map. Among his key accomplishments was his defense’s role in DuPage’s 36-game win streak between 1993-95 that still stands as the longest run in the history of NJCAA football.
In 1996, Roman moved on to Mesa (Ariz.) where he would coach for two seasons under David Rice before returning to Illinois as defensive coordinator of Joliet in 2000. He would help lead the Wolves to the non-scholarship title in 2001 before claiming a national championship in 2002.
Since 2000, Roman has dedicated his life to promoting the sport of football abroad. Over the past 16 years, he has served as a defensive coordinator and head coach with several teams in Germany and Austria.
Photos courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys, New Mexico Military Athletics and the New Orleans Saints.