Top photo by JIM MONE / Associated Press
Those who followed Aikman for almost two decades -- from high school star to college prospect, from Sooner to Bruin, from busted-up rookie to Super Bowl MVP to broken down veteran -- will miss his star, whether they cheered the Dallas Cowboys or reviled them.
Aikman lived in Oklahoma but for seven years. Nonetheless, he was an Oklahoman. He said so himself. His charitable efforts in Henryetta and Oklahoma City will reflect his good will toward the state for years to come.
Troy Aikman fans have read about their golden boy in the Tulsa World since 1983. Anything we write today has probably been written before, so instead we offer this Troy Aikman timeline, an exercepted collection of career highlights and lowlights culled from the World's archives. We hope you enjoy this look back at a California kid who came to love Oklahoma, learned to throw a football and became an idol to millions.
-- John E. Hoover
Excerpts from the career of an Oklahoma Cowboy
From humble beginnings . . .
Sept. 25, 1983
By Mike Brown, Tulsa World
HENRYETTA -- Troy Aikman arrived here four years ago under the barest of coincidences. And Aikman admits he may have been making a sacrifice by leaving the fertile baseball breeding grounds of Southern California.
But Aikman can't complain with the interest he is generating as a high school football quarterback in Oklahoma this season. The 6-4 -1/2, 195-pound Aikman has already been contacted by five major universities, including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas And there is every indication he may become the state's top quarterbacking prize.
"I thought (moving to Oklahoma) was a mistake at first," Aikman admits. "I probably would have played baseball if I had stayed in California. . . .But I like Oklahoma better now. Football is bigger here. It's more exciting, anyway."
A Cowboy forever
April 10, 2001
By Jaime Aron, Assocated Press
IRVING, Texas -- Troy Aikman's career ended with the Dallas Cowboys after all. The three-time Super Bowl champion announced his retirement at a news conference Monday at Texas Stadium, where he starred for 12 seasons.
"You watch and you think that your time will never come," said Aikman, fighting back tears. "And, my time's come."
Aikman had four concussions in his last 20 starts -- giving him 10 in his career -- and has a degenerative back problem.
"I know it's the right thing for me because of my health, concussions, the back problems, I've had. It took it's toll," he said.
Oct. 26, 1984
By Steve Schoenfeld, Tulsa Tribune
Troy Aikman didn't get stage fright when he dressed up as a flower child in Henryetta High School's senior play last year. His hands didn't stick to the keyboard when he was the only male in a state typing contest, going against 200 girls (and winning).
So why should the University of Oklahoma freshman quarterback be nervous about possibly making his collegiate debut Saturday at the University of Kansas?
"Troy has been starting since the ninth grade," said Henryetta coach Ish Kaniatobe, who was an assistant for the Hens last year. "He can handle the pressure."
A bad break
Oct. 20, 1985
By Bill Connors, Tulsa World
NORMAN -- As Jimmy Johnson thought and Barry Switzer feared, college football's top-ranked defense could not cope with a passer like Vinny Testaverde and a sophisticated scheme like Miami's.
Vinny Testaverde made Switzer's scariest dreams come true by unraveling the Sooner defense with two touchdown passes that were the artistic stuff of which highlight films are made He also ran for a third.
And Miami tackle Jerome Brown demolished the Sooners' offense with three decisive plays in the second quarter -- including a sack that left Troy Aikman with a broken Ankle. The result was what Johnson privately predicted: a convincing victory for his team that knocked the No. 3 ranked Sooners from the unbeaten ranks. The score was 27-14, before a sellout crowd of 75,008 at Memorial Stadium and a near-national television audience.
Brown sacked Aikman in the second quarter on a play that apparently ended the sophomore quarterback's season just when he seemed he had arrived. Aikman actually outpassed Testaverde in the first quarter and completed his first six passes, including a 14-yard touchdown to Derrick Shepherd to give the Sooners a 7-7 tie.
He also narrowly missed making a 53-yard run for a touchdown that would have put the Sooners ahead late in the first quarter. He stepped out of bounds at the 21. But disaster struck when Brown sacked Aikman and end John McVeigh fell on the quarterback, causing the injury.
A Sooner no more
April 8, 1986
Troy Aikman, University of Oklahoma starting quarterback from Henryetta, has decided to transfer to a school that will more readily use his talents, head coach Barry Switzer announced Monday.
The move had been rumored since late last season, when freshman Jamelle Holieway took over for the injured Aikman and led the Sooners to a national championship.
"I will always root for the Sooners," Aikman said.
Go west, young man
May 14, 1986
HENRYETTA -- Troy Aikman, starting quarterback at the University of Oklahoma last season before breaking his ankle, said today he is transferring to UCLA to play football.
"I was leaning toward UCLA all along," he said.
He's that good
Nov. 2, 1987
Troy Aikman threw two touchdown passes to Paco Craig during a 17- point third quarter as UCLA beat Arizona State in a crucial Pac-10 game Saturday.
Aikman is the nation's most efficient passer this season, having completed 106-of-168 passes for 1,657 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has had only two passes intercepted, neither of which was his fault.
"Barry Switzer told me he was good," said UCLA coach Terry Donohue, "but he didn't tell me he was that good."
A likely pick
Dec. 19, 1988
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys president Tex Schramm said Sunday night that the team will seriously consider selecting UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman with the first pick in the NFL Draft next spring.
"If Troy Aikman is the quarterback he appears to be, then we will have to consider him very seriously in our thinking," said Schramm.
Feb. 21, 1989
By C.C. Cloutier, Tulsa World
HENRYETTA -- A veteran of the award-dinner circuit, Troy Aikman was nonetheless embarrassed and genuinely humbled by his hometown's embrace Monday night at the Henryetta Civic Center.
A record Chamber of Commerce banquet gathering estimated at 450 turned out to honor UCLA's All-America quarterback on Troy Aikman Day in this small town 50 miles south of Tulsa.
"It's a great honor, but it's kind of embarrassing as well," said Aikman. "I don't think I've done anything to warrant all this, but it means a lot."
Feb. 1, 1993
PASADENA, Calif. -- For Troy Aikman, the setup was almost too perfect, too storybook even for nearby Hollywood. Here was the golden boy quarterback, returning to the place where he played his college football, leading the Dallas Cowboys, America's team, in the Super Bowl, America's Game.
Of course he was the MVP. How could he not have been?
"This game meant everything to me," the Henryetta native said after leading Dallas to a 52-17 rout of Buffalo with four touchdown passes Sunday in Super Bowl XXVII. "It's a tremendous amount of weight off my shoulders. No matter what happens for the rest of my career, at least I can say I took my team to a Super Bowl and I was able to win."
Feb. 3, 1993
By Bill Connors, Tulsa World
Troy Aikman's talent, dedication and physical toughness enthralled NFL scouts when he was at UCLA and those qualities were cited by admirers in postgame toasts to Super Bowl XXVII's most valuable player.
But Aikman's emotional toughness was perhaps his most telling asset in reaching stardom. Many NFL coaches think it is unwise to start a rookie quarterback in a hapless situation. But Dallas threw Aikman into the fire. A 1-15 debut -- he was injured and did not play in the only victory -- inflicted a lot of burns. But Aikman was unshaken.
April 21, 1989
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys ended weeks of NFL Draft speculation Thursday by signing quarterback Troy Aikman to a rookie-record, six-year, $11.2 million contract.
Aikman, who played at UCLA and will be the No. 1 choice in Sunday's NFL Draft, said he hoped that within five years "the fans will be comparing me with Roger Staubach."
Aug. 25, 1989
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have a choice to make about who will be their starting quarterback. That decision may be made by Sunday morning. Rookie Troy Aikman from Henryetta will start for Dallas in the first half of an exhibition game Saturday night against the Denver Broncos in Mile High Stadium and rookie Steve Walsh will play the second half.
Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson refuses to say which of his high-priced rookie quarterbacks has the inside track on the starting job.
"I wouldn't say either one of them has the edge," Johnson said. "It's very close at this time."
Nov. 14, 1989
IRVING, Texas -- Troy Aikman held the NFL record for most passing yards by a rookie -- 379 -- Monday while he cleared out the cobwebs from a highlight-film hit by Phoenix linebacker Anthony Bell. Aikman was knocked cold for nearly five minutes Sunday after releasing a 75-yard touchdown pass to James Dixon in the Dallas Cowboys' 24-20 loss to the Cardinals.
The rookie quarterback, making his first start since suffering a broken index finger on his non-passing hand Oct. 1, had to be told his pass went for a touchdown. Coach Jimmy Johnson broke the news after Aikman regained consciousness.
Dec. 24, 1993
IRVING, Texas -- Troy Aikman became the richest player in NFL history, agreeing to a $50 million, eight- year contract with the Dallas Cowboys. The 27-year-old quarterback will receive an $11 million signing bonus and salaries ranging from $1.75 million in 1994 to $7.5 million in 2000.
Jan. 31, 1994
By Bill Haisten, Tulsa World
ATLANTA -- In the rematch, there was continued misery for Thurman Thomas. There was redemption for Leon Lett. There were unexpected plays from James Washington.
For a half, Sunday's Super Bowl XXVIII was competitive and dramatic and smelled like a potential upset -- Buffalo led 13-6 at the break -- but Dallas rallied with two quick defensive scores and coasted to a 30-13 victory before 72,817 in the Georgia Dome.
Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman, who sustained a concussion last week against San Francisco, was 19-of-27 passing for 207 yards and one interception.
"James Washington's play to tie the game up, that was really the play of the game for us," said Aikman.
Bad start, heroic finish
Jan. 16, 1995
By Bill Haisten, Tulsa World
SAN FRANCISCO -- During the opening minutes of Sunday's NFC Championship, it seemed the San Francisco 49ers were en route to a rout of shocking proportions. The Cowboys never gave themselves a chance. Each of three quick Dallas turnovers was followed by a 49er touchdown and, to the delight of the mob assembled at Candlestick Park, the Cowboys were on the downside of a 21-0 problem.
Dallas did come back to make it interesting, but San Francisco prevailed 38-28 and advanced to a Super Bowl XXIX meeting against San Diego.
Troy Aikman played catch-up football from the start and wound up attempting 53 passes (he completed 30 for 380 yards and two touchdowns).
"This," said Aikman, "was very frustrating."
On the rocks
Dec. 23, 1995
IRVING, Texas -- Troy Aikman grumbles and the earth rumbles for the Dallas Cowboys. And the seismographs are twitching at the team's Valley Ranch home. A reported philosophical rift between the star quarterback and second-year coach Barry Switzer has the coach-player relationship on the rocks, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Friday.
Accidental super hero
Jan. 29, 1996
By John Klein, Tulsa World
TEMPE, Ariz. -- It wasn't Emmitt, Troy or Michael. Or even Deion's dancing. This Super Bowl was decided by two passes that shouldn't have been thrown. And a cornerback named Larry Brown.
Dallas rules the football world today, just as every said they would. But the Cowboys' unlikely hero was Brown, not one of its galaxy of stars. Dallas, locked in an epic battle with determined Pittsburgh, cashed in Browns two interceptions for touchdowns and won Super Bowl XXX 27-17 Sunday at Sun Devil Stadium.
Aug. 20, 1997
IRVING, Texas -- Mark Tuinei stood some 30 yards away, a Gatorade bottle on his head and a sheepish smile on his face. He challenged Troy Aikman to a show of his marksmanship with a football.
A crowd gathered in the Dallas Cowboys dressing room before a workout Monday. Tuinei bravely declined a blindfold. Aikman spun the ball, found the laces and unleashed a bullet pass. It took the bottle cleanly off the offensive lineman's head. The crowd went wild.
"It absolutely amazed me," said Michael Irvin. "Talk about accuracy."
Troy's teacher a finalist
Aug. 20, 1997
By Ralph W. Marler, Tulsa World
Troy Aikman's high school teacher is one of 10 finalists for the NFL's teacher of the year award. Jean Froman, now dean of students at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, said she was notified of her standing for the award by the NFL last week.
Oct. 27, 1997
IRVING, Texas -- Troy Aikman had a stiff neck and headache, but vowed he'll start against the San Francisco 49ers. Aikman suffered the fifth concussion of his NFL career in the first period of the Dallas Cowboys' 13-12 loss to Philadelphia.
"I have no doubt I'll be fine," Aikman said.
Nov. 28, 1997
By Barry Lewis, Tulsa World
IRVING, Texas -- Troy Aikman made a dramatic entrance to a loud ovation Thursday. His exit wasn't as glorious as he and his teammates were booed off the Texas Stadium field, treated like long-time losers instead of three-time Super Bowl champions.
Aikman, who wasn't expected to start after developing severe back spasms 30 minutes before the opening kickoff, did produce 356 passing yards, his third-highest in a regular season game since breaking into the NFL in 1989. But the Dallas quarterback got off to a horrid start with three interceptions that gift wrapped a 27-14 victory for the Tennessee Oilers.
Man of the year
Jan. 23, 1998
SAN DIEGO -- Troy Aikman's job is to get the football into the end zone. The Dallas quarterback is the NFL's man of the year because he's taken the end zone to hospitalized children.
Aikman was honored Tuesday by the league for his contributions off the field as well as on. Aikman's foundation provides financial support for high-tech, football-themed playrooms -- "End Zones" -- for disabled and other hospitalized youths.
March 26, 1998
PLANO, Texas -- A fire struck the $3.2 million home of Troy Aikman on Wednesday, just a few weeks after the Dallas Cowboys quarterback had moved in. Aikman was not home at the time and there were no injuries.
The 12,000-square-foot home had taken nearly 2 -1/2 years to build and was finished about two months ago. Damages were estimated at $250,000.
Scoring with sick kids
Feb. 20, 1999
The Tulsa World
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A football- themed play area called Aikman's End Zone will officially open at the Children's Hospital of Oklahoma on Tuesday. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman is the center's founder and primary benefactor.
Decorated in the Cowboys' silver and blue, the interactive area provides a place for relaxation and imagination for children facing serious medical challenges. Aikman also has End Zones in children's hospitals in Dallas and Fort Worth.
Breaking the bank
April 14, 1999
IRVING, Texas -- Troy Aikman is once again the highest-paid player in the NFL as the Cowboys reworked his deal and will give him $85.5 million through 2007. The extension added six seasons to the three remaining on the quarterback's contract. Aikman has already received $13 million of it and will get the remaining $7 million in early 2001.
Primed for another run
Aug. 5, 1999
By John E. Hoover, Tulsa World
WICHITA FALLS, Texas -- With a new contract, a deeper understanding of the offense and a wedding engagement on his mind, Troy Aikman was relaxed -- even jovial -- during a 52-minute conversation with a few sports writers Thursday.
Taking a break from the rigors of training camp, Aikman, 32 and starting his 11th season quarterbacking the Dallas Cowboys, said he finds life to be similar to when he was 25 and first led the Cowboys to a Super Bowl title. He is still driven by the desire to win another championship (he has three) but he is also perpetually fueled by the embarrassment of losing.
"There's nothing more that I want than to win another Super Bowl," Aikman said. "I've got a lot left in me."
April 9, 2000
DALLAS -- Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman has added another ring to his collection: a wedding ring. Aikman, who has accumulated three Super Bowl rings, married former Cowboys public relations staffer Rhonda Worthey in a private ceremony at his home in Plano, a north Dallas suburb.
The bitter end
Dec. 11, 2000
By Jaime Aron, Associated Press
IRVING, Texas -- Looking glum, Troy Aikman sat motionless on the Dallas bench. His arms were crossed and there was nobody around him. There was nothing, really, that they could say.
Although the Cowboys pulled off an inspiring 32-13 victory over the revamped Washington Redskins, Aikman couldn't enjoy it after suffering a concussion that likely will end his season and possibly his 12-year career.
The quarterback sustained his 10th career concussion, second this season and fourth in two years, midway through the first quarter on a flying tackle by rookie linebacker LaVar Arrington. Aikman was rolling right on a third-and-goal from the 1 when Arrington crashed into him. It happened so fast there was no time for Aikman to react before smacking onto the artificial turf.
March 8, 2001
By Jaime Aron, Associated Press
IRVING, Texas -- After 12 seasons, 10 concussions and three Super Bowl titles, Troy Aikman is no longer a Dallas Cowboy in part because of another big number: the $7 million bonus he was due on Thursday.
While health was also a factor in Aikman being waived on Wednesday, the quarterback said the final straw was the Cowboys deciding to take a salary cap blast this season instead of a worse one in the future.
Under the terms of an $85.5 million contract signed in April 1999, Aikman would receive the bonus and have the deal extended through 2007 if he was on the roster Thursday. The only ways around it were cutting Aikman or the quarterback retiring.
Aikman, 34, was the MVP of his first Super Bowl, a 52-17 victory over Buffalo. His numbers are impressive: 2,898-of-4,715 (61.5 percent) for 32,942 yards, 165 touchdowns and 141 interceptions. In the playoffs, he was 320-of-502 (63.7 percent) for 3,849 yards, 23 TDs and 17 INTs.
Compiled and arranged by JOHN E. HOOVER, World Sports Writer
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