Staubach, a former Cowboys quarterback, told a crowd of thousands in downtown Dallas that men should know better than to strike a woman.
"It's amazing that we even need to have this rally," Staubach told the crowd at the rally dubbed Dallas Men Against Abuse, "but the momentum needs to take shape."
Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith also spoke to the crowd, and Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant made a surprise appearance. In brief comments, Bryant apologized for his role in a domestic altercation in July. He was arrested for allegedly hitting his mother, but no charges were filed
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and other city leaders have waged a public campaign against domestic violence after a series of high-profile crimes in which woman were killed or attacked, allegedly by men. "You can call a man who hits a woman a lot of things, but you can't call him a man," Rawlings said.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown said his department responds to more than 13,000 domestic violence calls each year, a persistently high number that requires an array of social services for victims.
Rawlings, who has said members of his own family have been victims of domestic violence, said one of every two women in the U.S. will be struck at some point in their lives.
Smith, who like Staubach was a longtime fixture of the Dallas Cowboys, told the audience that one of the most fulfilling parts of life is to "reach out and help someone along the way."
He said more people must do this to cut into the number of women each year who are victims of domestic violence. He chided men who are unable to control their emotions.
"It's truly not a manly thing to do," he said.
Lara Gaither, outreach director for the Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas, said that over the last year or two, overall crime has dropped in Dallas. The exception is cases of domestic abuse.
"We can't end domestic violence until men are part of the solution," Gaither said before the rally.
Josh Thompson, an early childhood educator for Texas A&M in Commerce, said the most dangerous place for a child is in the home of a mother with a boyfriend who has no strong attachment to the child.
"There's this lack of accountability on the man's part," he said. "We need to man up and hold each other accountable. We can change one another by acting with commitment."