DALLAS — Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson are always open to new ways of commemorating their famous Hail Mary touchdown that gave the Dallas Cowboys a playoff victory over the Minnesota Vikings in 1975.
Nothing says “new” quite like a digital collectible known by a term that might sound like a foreign language to folks old enough to remember Staubach’s 50-yard heave in the final seconds, and Pearson’s on-the-hip catch after his forever-debated contact with defensive back Nate Wright a few yards from the end zone.
The non-fungible token, or NFT, will be on sale through Dallas-based Heritage Auctions on Aug. 21-22 with a starting bid of $20,000 and estimates that the price tag could reach $80,000.
The winning bidder will get a 55-inch monitor to display the collectible, and will join Staubach and Pearson on the field for a re-enactment of the play that gave the Cowboys a 17-14 victory. Dallas lost to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl that season.
“The Hail Mary has always been a part of my life, and it’s used now for a lot of different ways,” Staubach told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “But in 1975, it was the first time it was ever used in the NFL.”
That’s because of what Staubach told reporters after the game when asked what he was thinking on the play. In that moment, he had no idea what his answer would create.
“I was a Catholic kid from Cincinnati, Ohio, and you know, it was a heck of a play,” Staubach said. “I said, ‘I closed my eyes and said a “Hail Mary,”’ instead of saying, ‘I closed my eyes and said a prayer.’ Or I could have said the, ‘Our Father to Glory Be.’ But I said ‘Hail Mary.’”
The collaboration with Ellipsis Digital LLC, designed by Austin-based artist Glitch, comes less than a month before Pearson finally joins Staubach in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The three-time All-Pro receiver is part of the class of 2021. Staubach was enshrined in 1985.
“When I saw some of the numbers associated with this digital art from other people doing it, I couldn’t believe it,” Pearson said. “And then I realized, ‘Hey, we might have something of value to these folks as well where we can generate the same kind of numbers.’”
Heritage was interested in part because there will be only one digital rendition of the Hail Mary. Other NFTs are more like traditional collectibles such as trading cards, with many more in circulation.
Part of the appeal of NFTs is they can be traded in cryptocurrencies. Heritage’s involvement also means the Hail Mary item can be purchased with a debit or credit card.
“We think this one is special in that it tells the story of an iconic play, an event, and it showcases two of the greatest players in NFL history,” said Mike Provenzale, Heritage’s production manager. “And the cool thing about this is it offers a tangible aspect as well. You get to meet Roger and Drew and re-enact the Hail Mary.”
Ellipsis president Josh Fagan says he’s a lifelong Cowboys fan who is about the same age as the Hail Mary itself — 45. Though the play was before Fagan’s time, his company connected with Staubach and Pearson through Doug Donley, a friend and investor who was a Dallas receiver late in Pearson’s career.
Fagan says Ellipsis has plans to pursue digital memorabilia for other iconic sports moments.
“We feel and we feel like there’s a big opportunity specifically with these vintage athletes, because, if you think about it, their careers ended before the invention of the internet,” Fagan said. “They never had to do these types of new forms of media memorabilia. And there’s just a huge market for it.”