That sweet smell in the air is college football. We’ve officially made it.
Burgers are on the grill, queso is on the table, and a football is in the air. Football season in general is a sight for sore eyes after a long offseason filled with basketball, baseball, and a game of chess or two.
One week from today will be Dallas Cowboys Football Eve which means that in exactly 8 days the ‘Boys hit the field for real. As per usual around these parts we’re continuing our Countdown To Kickoff series with the Greatest 8 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 8 For The Dallas Cowboys:
- Troy Aikman^, QB
- Buzz Sawyer, P
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
When you draft a quarterback with the number one overall pick, there is an expectation of him – bring our franchise to glory.
Glory is defined in many ways. Obviously the hope is that your number one pick has a career filled with personal achievements: Pro Bowls, passing titles, maybe even a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. More than anything though, the hope is that as a franchise’s number one overall pick you can bring them a Super Bowl victory.
In the Super Bowl era there have been, including 2015’s Jameis Winston, 21 quarterbacks have been taken first overall. 3 of them are currently in the Hall of Fame, but are there any guesses as to how many of them won a Super Bowl for their franchise? Anyone? Bueller? 5.
To be fair, Jim Plunkett (taken first overall in 1971) would eventually lead the Raiders to victory in Super Bowls XV and XVIII, but the New England Patriots were the ones who drafted him. The five quarterbacks are: Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and the Greatest 8 in Dallas Cowboys History.
After an illustrious high school career in Henryetta, Oklahoma Troy Aikman had a few options. The New York Mets offered him a contract to play baseball, and even though the University of Miami’s Jimmy Johnson recruited him to play there it only made sense for Troy Aikman to play collegiately at the University of Oklahoma for Barry Switzer.
During his first season as starter for the Sooners Troy played well. Victories over Minnesota, Kansas State, and Texas set up a showdown against the Miami Hurricanes and Jimmy Johnson.
The late Jerome Brown, then Hurricane and future Philadelphia Eagle, broke Troy Aikman’s ankle… making him lost for the season. The Sooners would go on to win the National Championship under new quarterback Jamelle Holieway, and Aikman was looking to transfer.
Even though Jimmy Johnson once again tried to lure Aikman to Miami, Troy headed to the west coast and after a redshirt year began play for the UCLA Bruins. After two successful seasons, Troy was the apple of the NFL eye. He was thought to be the first overall pick in the 1989 Draft… the pick belonging to Jimmy Johnson and the Dallas Cowboys.
Troy And The Cowboys
The third time is the charm, right? Jimmy Johnson finally got his quarterback when the Dallas Cowboys selected Troy Aikman number one overall in 1989.
As is usually the case for rookie quarterbacks that first year was tough. 1,749 yards, 9 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, and an 0-11 record to be specific.
After getting more adjusted to the NFL game in 1990, Troy took off in 1991 and began a streak of 6 consecutive Pro Bowls. The Cowboys as a team experienced their own success and even won a playoff game. The stage was set for 1992.
1992: The Birth Of A Dynasty
In 1992 Troy Aikman threw for 3,445 yards and 23 touchdowns, marks that would be his career highs. He led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, which gave them a first round bye in the playoffs. After a divisional round win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Aikman and the Cowboys had to get past the team of the 80s to get to Super Bowl XXVII – the San Francisco 49ers.
Troy was magnificent in the contest throwing for 322 yards and 2 touchdowns. With a narrow lead late in the fourth quarter, the Dallas Cowboys had the ball. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner asked Jimmy Johnson if he wanted to throw or run on the all-important series. Jimmy Johnson responded, “I want to score.”
The call was 896 F Flat. It called for one wide receiver to run a post route (where Michael Irvin had been all day) and one to run a curl route (this was Alvin Harper’s job). Throughout the day the 49ers had never given Troy a chance to throw to the post (the deeper route) so he would check the ball down to the lower spot at the curl route.
With the game on the line every big-time receiver wants the ball. So when Troy called “896 F Flat” Michael Irvin went over to the curl route. He was not taking any chances letting Alvin Harper make this play with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake.
Upon getting to the line of scrimmage Aikman noticed that the 49ers were showing blitz – which indicated that the ball should go to the post route. The ball had to be placed perfectly. When the 49ers blitzed, Alvin Harper would have a chance to cut into the middle of the field… with open field in front of him.
Troy hiked the ball and delivered it squarely between the numbers, hitting Alvin in full stride as he sprinted on downfield to help set up the Cowboys game-clinching score. A throw of that magnitude, of that precision, with that much on the line could have only been executed by Troy Aikman.
The Dallas Cowboys would go on to win Super Bowl XXVII by a score of 52-17. This 50-burger was fueled by Troy Aikman’s 4 touchdowns, making him the game’s Most Valuable Player.
The following year Troy Aikman was arguably the most precise passer in the NFL with 3,100 yards, 15 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and a league-leading 69.1 completion percentage. Once again the Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl and were now back-to-back Champions of the World.
In 1994 the Dallas Cowboys coaching regime changed from Jimmy Johnson to Troy Aikman’s former Sooners coach, Barry Switzer. The season ended in heartbreak at Candlestick Park, but the resilient Cowboys battled back in 1995.
Troy’s high-level accuracy continued when he was only intercepted 1.6% of the times that he attempted to throw a pass, a category in which he led the league.
The Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX giving them World Championships in three out of four years… a dynasty.
Troy Aikman was one third of the greatest trio in NFL History. While he was an outstanding, and Hall of Fame, quarterback… his talents were made greater with the likes of Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith as his two primary offensive weapons.
Aikman could drop back and pass to Irvin or hand off to Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher, and command a game like no other. This nucleus was a large reason why the Dallas Cowboys were able to sustain their dynasty in the 1990s, and it was led by quarterback Troy Aikman.
#8: Troy Aikman
The career resume of Troy Aikman includes:
- 6-Time Pro Bowl Selection (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996)
- 3-Time Super Bowl Champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
- Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Winner (1996)
- 94 Career Wins (1st in Dallas Cowboys History among quarterbacks)
- 2,898 Completions (1st in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 32,942 Passing Yards (2nd in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 165 Passing Touchdowns (2nd in Dallas Cowboys History)
- Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Class of 2005
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2006
Troy Aikman has continued his football life as he has moved from behind the center up to the broadcast booth. He serves as the lead analyst for Fox’s lead broadcast team, partnered up with Joe Buck. He has served on the call for four Super Bowls (XXXIX, XLII, XLV, and XLVIII) since becoming the lead analyst in 2005.
The pressures of being a number one overall pick can be daunting, the expectations are even larger. It takes an incredible person to handle it all with such resolve. Troy Aikman didn’t just handle these pressures – he exceeded them. He delivered 3 Super Bowls to the Dallas Cowboys, re-establishing them as one of the NFL’s premiere franchises, and earning him a spot in the hearts of Cowboys fans forever.
With a multitude of achievements already to his name, allow us to add one more. Troy Aikman is the Greatest 8 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 7 in Dallas Cowboys History is!