By Bo Carter
Troy Aikman is just over five years from joining the 50 or Better set, but the NFF College and Pro Football Hall of Fame member continues to endear all generations with his multitudinous talents on and off the gridiron.
Born Nov. 21, 1966, in West Covina, Calif., near Los Angeles and reared between California and Oklahoma in an oil-related family, the personable Aikman now has become much more than the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback who led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles and numerous playoff appearances.
The Emmy Award-winning broadcaster with the talented Joe Buck on FOX Sports National Football League telecasts and pride of the Henryetta (Okla.) HS Hens during an All-State career in football and baseball, he has branched out to become a talented investor, auto racing team owner, part-owner of the San Diego Padres in the National League, and even a country music performer.
And few people, even Cowboys insiders, would have believed this quiet and popular locker room leader and six-time Pro Bowl selection would reach the levels of national excellence in the broadcasting field.
Brad Sham, co-host of the nationally-syndicated Troy Aikman Show on radio, saw the potential right off the bat.
“Troy has a great knowledge of football history and is a true student of game strategy and football personalities,” observed Sham, the longtime radio voice of the Cowboys. “He does his homework and makes the players and coaches very comfortable during television production meetings. He has become a pro’s pro in broadcasting.”
Aikman accepts the compliment and credits Sham (several times Texas Sportscaster of the Year) with encouragement after the quarterback entered the media business fulltime along with his many other pursuits.
“I want to thank Brad and many of the people in the broadcasting business for being so supportive of a person with little experience but a heart for football,” Aikman explained. “The message I received from almost everyone was ‘do your homework’ and talk extensively with the players and coaches.”
Aikman, who starred at both Oklahoma and UCLA (where his AT&T Cotton Bowl performance in 1989 earned him a place in that organization’s Hall of Fame with a clutch victory over Arkansas), did not have to make a major adjustment in terms of work ethic when his broadcasting career began.
He was known among Cowboys’ teammates for his film room mentality and extensive study of the opposition with another Hall of Famer and former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson and Dallas’ offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“I wish I had a dollar for every hour Troy spent in the film and tape rooms,” quipped teammate, fellow FOX Sports football analyst and humanitarian Daryl “Moose” Johnston. “I would be a millionaire.”
The bond developed among Aikman, Johnston, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, the Cowboys offensive line (often treated to steak dinners by a grateful Aikman and always underappreciated for their protection of the star QB) also helped the California native and longtime Oklahoma resident fit into the often-complex word of televised sports.
“It was a major adjustment,” Aikman acknowledged, “but the producers, staff and everyone down to the statisticians and production assistants made the transition much easier. Just the travel and time demands are more than anyone ever expects when you take a new position. Playing in the NFL prepared me to be disciplined and stay on schedule.”
He also allowed time to reunite with “The Boys” from the 1992 Super Bowl XXVII team after 20 years as he enjoyed top showings of 302 completions, 3,445 passing yards, 23 touchdown passes, and 13 regular-season wins. Then he capped that with Super Bowl MVP honors with 22-for-30 passing, 273 yards, four TD tosses, and a rousing 52-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
“It was so great to see those guys,” he said with a smile. “Man, it seems like just yesterday when we went to that first Super Bowl, and it was just like being in that locker room again – lots of stories and great times.”