Troy Aikman – A Cowboy and Hall of Fame Legend and Now Fox Sports Commentator
The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys have been a success on and off the field for more than 30 years. They have been dubbed “America’s Team” and are a fan favorite not only in the state of Texas and the United States but internationally as well. It is the play on the field, and the individuals who have contributed to that play, that is at the heart of the Cowboys great success.
Through its franchise history, the Dallas Cowboys have had a number of all-stars whose skills and achievements have created legends and contributed to Dallas Cowboys history. Endless players have donned the single star and blue and white jerseys of the Dallas Cowboys and taken to the field at Texas Stadium. In the process some of them, such as Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Emmitt Smith have become legends of the game. The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most successful teams in the history of the National Football League and hold numerous league records, thanks to these players and countless others over the years. The Cowboys hold the league record for most consecutive winning seasons – 20 in all – from 1966 to 1985, as well as the record for most seasons with at least 10 wins (24). Additionally, they have been Super Bowl Champions five times a record they share with the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The list of team records, a part of Dallas Cowboys history, goes on and on.
The Dallas Cowboys are an exceptional team with a formidable past. The team was particularly successful during the 30 year span from 1966 to 1996 during which time they qualified for the playoffs 24 times, played in 14 NFC Championship games won 19 division titles, and took to the field for 8 Super Bowls, becoming Super Bowl Champions five times. In 1989 the Cowboys turned in a new direction with the firing and drafting of two individuals. Team ownership changed hands and Tom Landry, the only coach the Cowboys had ever known, was fired. New coach Jimmy Johnson, to no one’s surprise selected, with the first pick in the draft, the projected No. 1 overall pick, UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman.
Aikman was thrown into action immediately constantly trying to adjust to the styles of different players, while Johnson shuffled the depth chart trying to find players talented enough to build a winning team. In the middle of the season the Cowboy’s only Pro Bowl player, running back Herschel Walker was traded for several veteran players and draft choices. The the trade was devastating to the team in the 1989 season but in the long run turned out to be successful. The first season with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Aikman at the helm ended with the Cowboys winning just one game, a game in which Aikman had been side lined with a broken finger. However, despite the dismal record, Troy Aikman had displayed flashes of glory and had demonstrated why he was worthy of being picked first overall in the draft. In one game against the Phoenix Cardinals Aikman threw for a NFL-rookie record 379 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown.
Fans and sportswriters, still upset over Landry’s firing, and wondering if Aikman had the ability to be the team’s savior, would find that things would get better soon. Aikman himself proved to be resilient, and in 1990, led the Cowboys to the brink of the playoffs. As a result of the Walker trade, Emmitt Smith was chosen as a draft pick as the team set about building an offensive line and a defense that would rank among the league’s best. With two weeks to play in the 1990 season Aikman suffered a season-ending injury and the Cowboys finished with a 9 and 7 record. Despite another rough season Aikman continued to show his potential for success in the NFL.
In 1991, things changed as the Dallas Cowboys made it to the playoffs and Aikman was selected to the first of six consecutive Pro Bowls. Life got even better for Aikman in 1992 as he set career highs in completions (302), passing yards (3,445) and touchdown passes (23), and led the Cowboys to Super XXVII. The cowboys wiped out their opposition, 52-17 to become Super Bowl Champions. Aikman was named the Super Bowl MVP. The following year with Aikman having one of his best seasons, Dallas again defeated the Bills to become Super Bowl Champions for the second straight time. Turmoil hit the Cowboys the next season as Jimmy Jones was fired and replaced by Barry Switzer, a former college teammate of Jones’. Despite all of this, the Cowboys almost returned to the Super Bowl but were beaten by the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. They returned to glory in 1995 when they won a record-tying fifth Super Bowl defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the regular season of that year, Troy Aikman had thrown for over 3,300 yards.
In 1997 the Dallas Cowboys missed the play-offs. At the same time, Aikman had become the first Dallas Cowboys quarterback in history to have three straight 3,000-yard seasons. Coach Switzer suffered the first losing season of his coaching career and quit following the season. Constant personnel changes plagued the Cowboys for the rest of Aikman’s tenure and the newly enacted salary cap seemed to stop the team in their tracks – decline was on the way for the Cowboys. In a game in December of 2000 Aikman was sacked with such force that he was left with a dent in his helmet resulting in his career ending 10th concussion. A day before he was due a $7 million/7-year contract extension Aikman was waived. He felt he could still play but found no interested teams. Troy Aikman announced his retirement on April 9, 2001, and ended his career as the Cowboys’ all-time leading passer. His 90 wins in the 1990s is the most by any quarterback in any decade.
Aikman never left the world of football. In 2001 he became a colour commentator and part of the lead announcing crew for Fox’s NFC telecasts. On August 5, 2006, Aikman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In accepting the honor he gave credit to the Cowboys’ system and his teammates and fellow Cowboy legends, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith. Despite a rough start Troy Aikman proved himself to be great and left behind a most impressive legacy. He left his mark on the game, the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL. The NFL Dallas Cowboys have been an exceptional team through the years thanks to many outstanding all-stars. Troy Aikman is one such all-star, a legend of Dallas Cowboys history.