Nearly 50 years later, Roger Staubach’s touchdown pass to Drew Pearson that popularized the term “Hail Mary” in sports vernacular is living on in the 21st century as a Non-Fungible Token.
Non-Fungible Tokens, more commonly known as NFTs, are unique, non-interchangeable digital files that cannot be reproduced, forged or deleted. It’s kind of like having a one-of-a-kind digital collector’s item.
“We expect the legs and the notoriety or recognition of the most iconic play in Cowboy history, maybe the most iconic play in NFL history,” Pearson said. “Now we got a chance to keep it going, keep it out there.”
NFTs have grown in popularity over the years as technology has evolved. An NFT of Mavericks star Luka Doncic’s one-handed slam dunk against the Denver Nuggets on March 11, 2020, sold for $95,000 in April.
This specific NFT — created by Austin-based artist Glitch — includes a customized piece of artwork commemorating the “Hail Mary” pass that propelled the Cowboys to a 17-14 win against Minnesota in the divisional round of the 1975 playoffs. Visually, the NFT looks like a video of the play on loop, but it’s not necessarily a video, more so an original digital collector’s item.
When former Cowboys receiver Doug Donley, who also is the founding principal of Ellipsis Digital, the company that partnered with Staubach and Pearson on the offering, brought the idea to their attention, it went about how one would expect.
“They kind of looked at me like I was crazy when they were trying to understand the concept of an NFT,” said Donley, who played for the Cowboys from 1981 to 1984.
Donley and Ellipsis Digital president Josh Fagan said former Cowboys RB Tony Dorsett’s 99-yard touchdown run was also considered when deciding which play they’d memorialize.
The Hail Mary NFT will be sold through Dallas-based Heritage Auctions as part of its 2021 Summer Platinum Night Sports Auction scheduled for Aug. 21-22.
The starting bid for the 1/1 Ellipsis Digital Edition Hail Mary NFT will be $20,000. Mike Provenzale, Heritage Auctions’ production manager, estimates it to sell between $80,000 and $100,000.
The winning bidder will receive the NFT artwork, a 55-inch monitor to display it and a chance to re-enact the Hail Mary on the field with Staubach and Pearson.
“I know Drew will still catch it,” Staubach said. “I just hope I still have the arm to get it there.”
Pearson, who is set to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month, said he used a conversation about the NFT as a smokescreen to ask Staubach if he’d present him at the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony.
“He didn’t expect that,” Pearson said. “I almost made my quarterback cry.”
Pearson said being on the receiving end of an iconic play such as the Hail Mary pass helped his Hall of Fame bid, bringing eyes to everything he had accomplished before and after that moment. He said it gave him confidence in key situations to where he became “that guy,” or “the Hail Mary guy” as kids like to call him.
“If Roger’s throwing me a pass, it’s never a bad pass,” Pearson said. “He could throw it in the dirt, he could throw it 10 rows into the stands, if he’s throwing to me, it’s a good pass.”
Not a day goes by when Pearson isn’t asked about the play, he said. He doesn’t expect that to change now.
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