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Troy Aikman: Cowboys Legend

Cowboys legend Troy Aikman - along with another legend; Rayfield Wright - will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 5th of this year. Troy spent some time answering questions from the press about his career. As a Cowboys fan, I can't say enough about what Aikman meant to this franchise. Especially after the turmoil of the late 80's when Dallas had fallen from grace and was then sold to Jerry Jones. Jones then fired Tom Landry, and brought in a college coach - Jimmy Johnson - to take over. At the time, I wasn't sure what all this meant for my beloved Cowboys, and when they drafted Aikman #1 he promptly went on to lose all his starts in that first season, a year that saw Dallas go 1-15 with the only victory a Steve Walsh-led shocker over the Redskins.

All these years later, we can look back and know that Jimmy Johnson knew what he was doing, and that Troy Aikman was the kind of talent that would lead us to three Super Bowl wins and become a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Here is the long Q&A that Aikman did with the press. It's impossible to discuss Aikman's career without thinking of the Triplets, and Troy never fails to mention Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith.

Q. How did you manage along with Emmitt and Michael the egos? How did you manage those egos together?

TROY AIKMAN: A lot of the perception publicly was not accurate, as far as the players that we have, whether that's Michael or Emmitt or any of the other, you know, superstar players that we had come through Dallas. Those guys, I've always said - and Michael was probably the most unselfish player that I ever played with. And one of the best teammates I ever played with as well. I think he's a very misunderstood individual as far as what his contributions were to our team or what type of teammate he would have been.

They see the charisma, they see the personality he has, they immediately translate to, well, then, he's selfish. Michael was a tremendous competitor. Of course he wanted the football as much as anybody, but he understood when he was not getting the ball thrown to him why that wasn't happening. And as long as we were winning, he was very content with that.

Emmitt, in a lot of ways, was the same way. He was such a big focus of what we did offensively, that when they were shutting him down and we had to throw the ball and that's what we did, we had success doing it, then he was content with that as well.

There's a lesson in there for the most talented receiver we've had in Dallas since Michael Irvin, Terrell Owens.

Gil Brandt also wrote an article where he recalls his first meetings with Troy and how he eventually came to be drafted by the Cowboys.

The Cowboys had the No. 1 pick in the 1989 draft and Coach Landry and I had made arrangements with UCLA head coach Terry Donahue to see them practice at Texas Stadium as they prepared to play Arkansas.

As we walked away from practice, Coach Landry leaned into me and said quietly, "I've seen enough. No more practices are necessary." That was Coach Landry's way of saying he will be our pick.


The Cowboys were sold to Jerry Jones on Feb. 25, 1989, and Jimmy Johnson became the head coach. There were some questions if Aikman would still be our pick.

I accompanied the new head coach and some other staff members to Westwood in mid-March for a private workout before the draft. Afterward, when we were leaving, I remember asking Jimmy his thoughts.

"If we had him at Miami," he said, "We would have been 24-0 (in 1987-88) and won every game by 50 points."

I replied, "I rest my case."

On April 23, 1989, the Cowboys selected Aikman with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Interesting. Either way, whether Tom Landry had stayed or whether Jimmy Johnson came in - as he did - the Cowboys were going to take Troy Aikman as the #1 pick.

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