John Roach
No. 12, 33, 10
Position:Quarterback, Defensive back
Personal information
Born:(1933-03-26)March 26, 1933
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Died:February 18, 2021(2021-02-18) (aged 87)
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:197 lb (89 kg)
Career information
High school:Dallas (TX) Highland Park
College:Southern Methodist
NFL draft:1956 / Round: 3 / Pick: 31
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:64
Passing yards:2,765
Pass attempts:413
Pass completions:182
Rushing yards:99
Player stats at · PFR

John Gipson Roach (March 26, 1933 – February 18, 2021) was an American professional football player who was a quarterback and defensive back in the National Football League (NFL) for the Chicago/St. Louis Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, and Dallas Cowboys. He played college football for the SMU Mustangs.[1]

Early years

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Roach graduated from Highland Park High School in University Park, which had earlier produced hall of famers Bobby Layne and Doak Walker.

Roach accepted a football scholarship from Southern Methodist University. He played as a quarterback, defensive back and punter for the Mustangs, becoming a starter at quarterback as a senior.

Professional career

Chicago / St. Louis Cardinals

Roach was selected by the Chicago Cardinals in the third round (31st overall) in the 1956 NFL draft. As a rookie, he was used at punter. After the season, he spent two years in the U.S. Air Force.

In 1959, he returned to the team and played as a defensive back, before being named the starting quarterback late in the year.[2]

In 1960, he became the starting quarterback, after the team lost to injury two quarterbacks during their first season in St. Louis. On July 5, 1961, in a surprising move, he was sent to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Halfback Prentice Gautt and rookie End Taz Anderson.

Cleveland Browns

On August 8, 1961, he was traded to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for a third round draft choice (#42-John Furman).[3]

Green Bay Packers

Roach was the backup quarterback on the Packers' 1961 and 1962 NFL championship teams, backing up Bart Starr under head coach Vince Lombardi. In 1963, when Starr injured his passing hand in the sixth game against the St. Louis Cardinals, he was held out for 4+12 games and Roach was named the starter during those contests.[2][4][5] The team was 4–1 with Starr sidelined and finished 11–2–1, but the 26–7 loss to the Chicago Bears in mid-November was critical;[6][7][8] keeping them a half game back in the Western Conference final standings and denied the Packers a chance to win an unprecedented third consecutive NFL championship game.

He announced his retirement on May 20, 1964. On August 31, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a third draft choice (#33-Bob Timberlake).

Dallas Cowboys

In 1964, Roach retired to work for an investment firm in Dallas, until the Dallas Cowboys convinced him to play in his home state. He was acquired after starting quarterback Don Meredith went down with a knee injury in the preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.[9][10] He started in 4 games, passing for 349 yards, one touchdown and 6 interceptions.[11]


John Roach died on February 18, 2021.[1] At the time of his death, he was the only person to have played football for the Highland Park Scots, SMU Mustangs, and Dallas Cowboys.


  1. ^ a b "John Roach Obituary - (1933 - 2021) - Dallas, TX - Dallas Morning News". Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Roach waiting, ready". Milwaukee Journal. October 22, 1963. p. 15, part 2.
  3. ^ Johnson, Chuck (August 8, 1961). "John Roach is obtained". Milwaukee Journal. p. 10, part 2.
  4. ^ "John Roach promoted by Packers". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. October 22, 1963. p. 18.
  5. ^ Hand, Jack (October 22, 1963). "Roach only sub for Starr". Ocala Star=Banner. Florida. Associated Press. p. 9.
  6. ^ Strickler, George (November 18, 1963). "Showdown battle is all Bears, 26-7". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3.
  7. ^ Lea, Bud (November 18, 1963). "Spirited Bears maul Packers, take lead". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2, part 2.
  8. ^ Johnson, Chuck (November 18, 1963). "Bears rip Packers in showdown, 26-7". Milwaukee Journal. p. 9, part 2.
  9. ^ "John Roach joins Cowboys". Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. September 1, 1964. p. 25.
  10. ^ "Cowboys' hopes rest on Roach". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. October 1, 1964. p. 12, part 2.
  11. ^ "Roach". Milwaukee Journal. UPI. November 28, 1964. p. 2, final.