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Cowboys Midsummer Madness, Regional Semifinals: Rayfield Wright vs. Troy Aikman

The Midsummer Madness regional semifinal round is underway! Today’s Sweet Sixteen match-up features three seed Rayfield Wright facing off against two seed Troy Aikman. Who will survive and advance to the Elite Eight?

The last of the semifinal match-ups in the Roger Goodell Regional pits two members of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2006 against one another. Third-seeded Rayfield Wright, who can make a good argument for being the best offensive lineman in Cowboys' history (I see you, Larry Allen), goes head-to-head versus second-seeded Troy Aikman, who is without peer when it comes to being the most accurate (and championship-winning) quarterback ever to wear the star. Which will survive and advance to face The Fedora himself? Read the bios and comments and hit the poll, fellow Cowboys historians!

Wanna keep tabs on the state of the bracket or look ahead to future contests? All the Midsummer Madness info you could ever want can be found right here.


Player: Rayfield Wright

Position: offensive tackle

Seed: 3

How he got here: defeated Dexter Coakley, 563-50; defeated Tony Hill, 482-57


Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
Larry Rayfield Wright

Bio: Wright was drafted by the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1967 draft as a tight end; during the first three years of his career, he shuttled between tight end, defensive lineman, and offensive tackle (wearing jersey numbers 85 and 67 before settling on 70). However, in 1969, he had to sub in for injured starter Ralph Neely, against the Rams' Deacon Jones. Wright performed so impressively that the Cowboys named him the starter before the first training camp practice in 1970, a position he held for the remainder of his career - in an era in which right tackle was the most important spot on the offensive line, and was usually aligned against the opponent's best pass rusher.

From 1970-'76, he anchored the line for an offense that finished in the top 10 in scoring every year. Behind his blocking, Calvin Hill became the first 1,000 yard rusher in team history when he ran for 1,036 yards in 1972; in total, Wright helped to pave the way for the first five 1,000-yard rushers in Cowboys history. In 1978, he and his linemates protected  Roger Staubach sufficiently enough for him to become the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season (he totaled 3,190).

Over the course of his thirteen year career, Wright started in six NFC Championship games, and played in five Super Bowls, winning two of them (VI and XII). He was named to the Pro Bowl every season from 1971-'76, and was a first- or second-team All-Pro each season in that span (he was a first teamer on three occasions). Wright was a member of the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1970s and, in 1972, was voted the NFLPA NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2004 and the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Member comments:

Member Comment

Had to go with Original "Big Cat"

Rayfield was a monster despite being a relatively small guy for the position. The position flex early in his career and dominance he provided to the Cowboys great 70’s teams was unmistakable… and not something you’ll likely see too often ever again.


I met Mr. Wright once upon a time...

a true gentleman and a humble human being…with the biggest hands that I think I’ve ever seen. He took off his Super Bowl ring and let me hold it. I swear I could have put my ring finger and my middle finger it it.
I remember a playoff game where he put [Jack Youngblood] down on the ground time after time.


Wright Wright your bloody well Wright


Player: Troy Aikman

Position: quarterback

Seed: 2

How he got here: defeated Clint Murchison, 705-113; defeated Ralph Neely, 662-42


Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
Troy Kenneth Aikman

Bio: Aikman was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1989 draft,but his status with the team was uncertain for his first few seasons in Dallas. Jimmy Johnson used a first round pick in the 1989 supplemental draft to select his University of Miami quarterback, Steve Walsh (who was traded to the Saints in 1990). That uncertaintywas erased as soon as the Cowboys hired Norv Turner to be their offensive coordinator in 1991. Although Aikman only played ten games before injuring a knee that year, he still made the first of six consecutive Pro Bowls.

In 1992, Aikman played all sixteen games, set career highs in completions (302), passing yards (3,445) and touchdown passes (23), and led the team to a 13-3 record and the first of three Super Bowl titles (Super Bowl XXVII). During the Cowboys' 1992 playoff run, Aikman was spectacular, completing nearly 70% of his passes, breaking Joe Montana's record of 83 passes without an interception, tossing eight touchdowns, and boasting a 126.4 quarterback rating. He was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII.

Aikman was known for his precision as a passer; his ability to hit receivers in stride was legendary. In 1993, he led the NFL in completion percentage, at 69.1% and, from 1991-96, never dipped below 63%. He was also a quiet but fiercely competitive leader, and set the mark as the winningest quarterback in a single decade, with 90 wins in the 1990s. On opening day, 1999, he caped off his decade of excellence by throwing for five touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, in a come-from-behind win over the Redskins. Games like this and the 1994 Championship Game were evidence that Aikman could have put up Dan Marino-like numbers had the system required that he do so. But, as he noted in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, he sacrificed numbers for wins.

Aikman retired with 47 different Cowboys passing marks, including wins by a QB, pass attempts, completions, completion percentage, touchdowns, passing yards, and interception percentage. During his career he was a six-time Pro Bowl selection (1991-96), led the team to three Super Bowl victories, and was the Super Bowl XXVII MVP.  In 1996, he was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year. Aikman was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2005 and elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Member comments:

Member Comment

Who was better or more accurate at throwing a 20 yard line drive rocket then Aikman?

The guaranteed first down on a slant to Irvin was unstoppable. Best play we had in our arsenal. Meant you could do anything on 1st and 2nd down as long you got at least two yards.

Aikman to Irvin in the 94 game Rabbs mentions:

Enjoy the announcers

San Antonio Al

That's my quarterback

I’m too young to have anything but the faintest memories of the last of the 70s Super Bowls, but I was a high school senior when Troy won the MVP in Super Bowl XVII. I remember every moment of it and all the glory that followed.

...Also, my wife thinks he’s the best player of all-time and she’s never wrong.


Nick Eatman’s book If These Walls Could Talk recounts a story I'll paraphrase here….

..about how Charles Haley, who liked to amuse himself by ragging on other players, figured he’d target Troy Aikman one day in the locker room. He spotted Aikman from across the room minding his own business and getting dressed after a workout, and loudly said, "Hey, Troy. Hey, I’ll give you $500 cash right now if you can throw this football in between these trash cans. The ball can’t hit them either." Aikman laughed it off and continued to get dressed, but Haley kept pressing. Aikman eventually acknowledged him by looking up and seeing that about 20 yards away Haley had placed a pair of trash cans so close together that one football couldn’t even be placed sideways between them without touching one of them. It would be difficult to hand the ball off through that, much less throw a pass through it from that distance.

"Ball," Aikman suddenly demanded, onlookers now playing close attention. Haley was still trying to figure out fair rules for the bet, asking, "How many throws you need to get it through there?" Without saying a word Aikman took the ball and drilled it between the cans without touching them and into a locker behind them. The room went nuts and Haley was left speechless, an impressive feat in itself.

Alright, BTBers, which man advances to the Elite Eight?

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