DALLAS -- An NFL legend expressed dismay Saturday that public campaigns and rallies must still be held to tamp down the instances of domestic violence that leave women battered and bruised.
Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach told a crowd of thousands in downtown that men should know better than to strike a woman. But domestic abuse continues to bedevil authorities in Dallas and elsewhere.
"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.
Bryant was arrested for allegedly hitting his mother. The Dallas County District Attorney's office moved the Class A misdemeanor family violence charge to conditional dismissal in November, meaning it will be dropped if Bryant attends counseling and is not charged with a crime for a year.
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. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women.
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 Brown has told Genesis officials 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."
Information from ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon and The Associated Press was used in this report.