Sep 13, 2017

How the Dallas Cowboys Immortalized the first Hail Mary

Among many innovations the Dallas Cowboys brought to the football world, one of the most dramatic has been the Hail Mary — or rather the name for that desperate pass to win or tie a football game in the waning seconds.

Trailing by 4 against the Minnesota Vikings in a 1975 NFC Playoff game, quarterback Roger Staubach heaved a pass from midfield to Drew Pearson for the game-winning touchdown.

“I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary,” Staubach, a devout Catholic, said at the time.

Many teams have replicated the Hail Mary, but no Hail Mary is more famous than Staubach’s.

At The Star, Advent worked with the Cowboys to showcase this iconic event in an unforgettable way. Visitors, many Cowboys’ executives and members of the Advent team consider this one of their favorite exhibits the The Star.

Advent’s Drew Bryant and Clayton Lainhart led design and fabrication on this piece. They explain the storytelling, design and creation of this dramatic moment.

Drew Bryant: “The Cowboys have a beautiful, three-story staircase that connects the organization to the team, so we needed to find an impressive way to maximize that moment. In researching the Cowboys, we found this great video of the Hail Mary pass.

“They were really the first team in football to coin the term Hail Mary pass and therefore it’s an iconic football term that they own. We broke up the video into a series of slides, similar to a stop-motion video and then we depicted that on a series of acrylic panels as you walk up the stairs.”

Clayton Lainhart: “Integration-wise, this one was really challenging. Drew wanted to hang everything and not attach it to the floor. I was terrified that someone would reach out and cause the panes to fall somehow. We decided to play it safe and attached everything to the floor with cables.

“There is a piece of casework up in the ceiling and then one down on the floor. Then,we strung 18 individual aircraft cables and from that ran the full length of the staircase.”

Clayton: “Setting each panel, we went from the top to the bottom. As we set our first panel and started making our way down on the lift, we had to be really precise because if you set one panel wrong, you had to take the whole display apart and start back over again.

“We installed it in a 48-hour period. We took our time and did it all in one pass. We started at 8 a.m. on Saturday and finished at 10 a.m. on Monday.”

Drew: “This is one of my favorite pieces at The Star. The stair experience is defined by this incredible Cowboys play. A well integrated ring of lights illuminates the graphic plates from both above and below. This creates a column of light that vibrantly highlights the display.”

The Star in Frisco was nominated for Sports Business Journal‘s Sports Breakthrough of the Year in May.