Hall recall for Troy Aikman

Discussion in 'History Zone' started by ABQCOWBOY, Jul 11, 2006.


    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Did not see this article posted. If this is a double post, please lock it down.

    I thought it was a pretty good read.


    Hall recall: Troy Aikman

    By Gil Brandt
    NFL.com Senior Analyst

    When you travel the country scouting players, what you learn to listen for is a buzz -- the growing sound of excitement and anticipation from coaches.

    It's reserved exclusively for athletes who stand out above the others. In the Southwest in the early 1980s, the buzz was centered on a quarterback from Henryetta, Okla., who drove a pickup truck and was going to change Barry Switzer's ultra-successful wishbone offense into a pro-style offense.

    NFL Network video

    Troy Aikman reacts to his Hall of Fame election.
    Click here to watch

    My first encounter with Troy Aikman was in the fall of 1984, when I was scouting Sooners seniors in Norman, Okla. I was watching film in offensive coordinator Mack Brown's office (who is now the Texas Longhorns head coach) when he said he wanted to bring someone in to meet me. He brought in a freshman quarterback who would make his first collegiate start that week in a road game against Kansas.

    When I asked him where he was from, an 18-year-old Aikman nervously replied, "I'm from Henryetta. I played for the Henryetta Hens in high school."

    It was an inauspicious beginning of a career for a future Hall of Famer; the Sooners lost 28-11 and an Aikman interception was returned for a touchdown. Unfortunately, the change to Oklahoma's offense never got on track. He broke his leg the following year and eventually transferred to UCLA.

    The next time I would see Troy was in Miami at the annual Playboy All-America weekend in May 1988. He had been my choice as the team's quarterback and was anticipating a big senior season.

    A round of golf on Saturday was part of the festivities. My foursome was an unbelievable preview of the top three picks of the 1989 NFL Draft -- Aikman, Tony Mandarich and a young running back from Oklahoma State. Barry Sanders had yet to start a game in college but showed a great deal of promise in backing up senior Thurman Thomas the year before in Stillwater.

    Troy Aikman sputtered in Oklahoma but flourished near his birthplace at UCLA.
    It was Sanders' first round of golf ever, but not Aikman's. He never used a wood off the tee, opting instead for a 1-iron that he continually crushed down the fairways.

    The first time I personally saw Aikman play in college was on a beautiful, sunny day in Seattle in early October 1988. I was scouting a Top 10 matchup between the Bruins and Huskies. Troy led his team to a 24-17 victory that day and eventually carried them into a New Year's Day game in (ironically) Dallas at the Cotton Bowl.

    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 Walter Camp All-American Weekend was in early February and I was able to continue my scouting of Aikman by spending three days with him in New Haven, Conn. He and I had a publicity photo taken together in front of an armored car used to pick up money for businesses -- foreshadowing, I assume, as late that spring, Aikman would sign for the largest contract in Dallas Cowboys history at the time.

    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."

    Troy Aikman took some lumps early in his career, but won his first Super Bowl in his fourth season.
    On April 23, 1989, the Cowboys selected Aikman with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

    Being the top pick doesn't guarantee success. Aikman had few bright moments during his first NFL season. Johnson had taken his college quarterback, Steve Walsh, in the supplemental draft and the two together in a training-camp battle for the starting position.

    Aikman started the first 11 games and failed to win any of them. He completed 155 of 293 passes (52.9 percent) for nine touchdowns against 18 interceptions. Walsh led the team to its only victory, a stunning triumph against the a previously unbeaten Washington team that went on to win the Super Bowl.

    Fortunately for Aikman, fate blew his way during his first offseason. Little-known quarterbacks coach Norv Turner was hired after others turned the position down for various reasons. He eventually was offered the position and totally retooled the Cowboys offense to play to Aikman's strengths -- uncanny accuracy and a cannon for a right arm.

    What a difference a year makes. From that point forward, Aikman began taking the steps necessary to be one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. During his 12-year career, he led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in a four-year span, brought his team from behind 16 times when trailing after three quarters, won 90 games in the 1990s (the most by any starting quarterback in any decade) and completed 70 percent of his passes (minimum 20 attempts) in 41 games.

    Aikman trivia
    What happened on the final day of the 1988 season that made it possible for the Cowboys to draft Aikman with the top overall pick?

    Answer: Green Bay (4-12) won at Phoenix (7-9), and Dallas (3-13) lost at home to Philadelphia (10-6).

    Who was the first-team all-Pac-10 quarterback in Aikman's last season at UCLA.

    Answer: Southern California's Rodney Peete, whom Detroit drafted in Round 6. Peete and Aikman were teammates in 1994.
  2. Screw The Hall

    Screw The Hall Well-Known Member

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    Great read, thx.
  3. adbutcher

    adbutcher K9NME

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    Great read. I am really glad that the winds of fate blew Troy our way.

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Well said AB, well said.....
  5. TruBlueCowboy

    TruBlueCowboy New Member

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    Makes ya wonder what Landry would have done with some of those players. I doubt he grabs Emmitt Smith, but he would at least have Troy and Michael Irvin.
  6. dougonthebench

    dougonthebench Cowboys Forever

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    I was thinking the same thing when I read the part about Landry saying Aikman was his QB.
  7. TruBlueCowboy

    TruBlueCowboy New Member

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    He had another important element too. Some of those offensive linemen were already on the team, and I'd say the oline was the most important part of the Cowboys offense in the early 90's. He may not have drafted as well as Jimmy, but he definitley had some key ingredients to find another winning record.
  8. DallasDW00ds0n

    DallasDW00ds0n Well-Known Member

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    thanks eagles!
  9. dougonthebench

    dougonthebench Cowboys Forever

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    Do you think Landry could have won another Superbowl with Aikman as his QB?
  10. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    I would like to think he would have won a SB with Troy. Given Coach Landrys past I do not think Troy would have started his rookie year but of course that is just my opinion
  11. Alexander

    Alexander What's it going to be then, eh?

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    Landry would never have parted with Herschel Walker.

    That, as much as Troy, led to acquiring the talent necessary to make the Super Bowls. Without Herschel, no Russell Maryland, no Tony Casillas, no Charles Haley etc.

    And the way Brandt was drafting at the time, there is no assurances we could have done much even if he did.
  12. dougonthebench

    dougonthebench Cowboys Forever

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  13. dougonthebench

    dougonthebench Cowboys Forever

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    do you think they'd had awinning record together?
  14. TruBlueCowboy

    TruBlueCowboy New Member

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    I don't know, Novacek, Stepnoski and Big E might be missing, but the Cowboys would still have a triplet trio of Aikman-Irvin-Walker, and Nate Newton, Kevin Gogan, and Mark Tuinei would all be on the line. That's a pretty darn good offense.

    I won't argue with the Brandt line, but I'm sure Jerry would have kicked Brandt out and brought in new management. Only thing is he may have brought in himself and he didn't exactly shine at drafting when he was running the show either.

    I think Ken Norton was also already on the team and the key would be drafting a good defense which is what Jimmy did in both Dallas and Miami.
  15. SA_Gunslinger

    SA_Gunslinger Official CZ Ea-girls hater

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    just goes to show you that sometimes players need good coaches to help unlock their full potential.
  16. Screw The Hall

    Screw The Hall Well-Known Member

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    I completely agree. Everything about the 90's Cowboys was destiny. We needed a gunsliner owner, for a gunslinger coach for a gunslinger team. Never liked the way Landry was ushered out ... but the results are undeniable.
  17. tunahelper

    tunahelper Well-Known Member

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    Novacek was a plan B pick up. Norton was drafted by JJ in the 2nd RD I believe.
    Everyone thinks JJ was a genius, but he had so many draft picks that it was shooting fish in a barrell. He missed on a ton of picks, just look it up.
  18. RCowboyFan

    RCowboyFan Active Member

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    Heck just look at miami drafts while he was helm. He hit on few there too, but misses were quite a few. I have argued that point plenty of times, but it never fails to discourage the aura that Jimmy has with lot of cowboys fans.
  19. Screw The Hall

    Screw The Hall Well-Known Member

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    His genius was manipulating trades, both in out of the draft to gather more picks, so he could use his swing for the fences approach to drafting. He drafted alot of boom or bust guys, and as you might expect alot of both occurred.
  20. dougonthebench

    dougonthebench Cowboys Forever

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    I believe we woulda won 4 Superbowls had Jimmy stayed on.

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