Troy Aikman

From Academic Kids

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Troy Kenneth Aikman (born November 21, 1966 in West Covina, California) is a former American football quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League, and currently a television sportscaster for the Fox network.

The youngest of 3 children, Aikman lived in Cerritos, California until age 12, when his family moved to a farm in Henryetta, Oklahoma. In "Things Change", an account of his life for kids, Aikman recounted he thought his athletic career was over, but, to his surprise, it was just beginning. He made All-State in baseball and American football, and his high school retired his football jersey.

Drafted by the New York Mets's, Aikman chose to pursue football and attend to the University of Oklahoma. He broke his leg in his debut against his Jimmy Johnson's University of Miami. With Aikman on the sidelines, head coach Barry Switzer went back to the wishbone offense, and the Sooners won the 1985 NCAA title.

Having won with the wishbone and with Aikman a passing quarterback, Coach Switzer oversaw Aikman transfer to UCLA, a program under Terry Donahue more conducive to Aikman's game. He had to redshirt one year due to college transfer rules, but went on to lead the Bruins to a 20-4 record over two seasons, and wins in the 1987 Aloha Bowl and the 1989 Cotton Bowl.

He was the projected #1 overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft, held by the Cowboys. The proud franchise had fallen on hard times, going a woeful 3-13 in 1988. On February 25, 1989, new owner Jerry Jones shocked the sports world by sacking the beloved Tom Landry - the only head coach the 'Boys ever had - and replaced him with Johnson, who, to no one's surprise, took Aikman.

Johnson did not bring Aikman along slowly, but threw into him the proverbial fire. He stumbled to an 0-11 record (155 of 293 for 1,749 yards, 9 TDs, 18 INTs) as the Cowboys went 1-15. Fans - still reeling from Landry's firing - dumped on the team's "savior."

But Aikman proved resilient, and, in 1990, led the Cowboys to the brink of the playoffs. He also started getting help, as Johnson showed a genius for evaluating talent, selecting Emmitt Smith. Dallas was 7-7 with 2 weeks to play before Aikman suffered a season-ending injury. Dallas lost its final 2 games, but fans were taking notice of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed leader of "America's Team". Advertisers were also taking notice. Aikman began to appear in commercials and quickly became a national celebrity.

In 1991, the Cowboys made it to the playoffs and Aikman was selected to the first of 6 consecutive Pro Bowls. In 1992, Aikman set career highs in completions (302), passing yards (3,445), and touchdown passes (23), and led the 'Boys to Super Bowl XXVII in Pasadena against the Buffalo Bills. Aikman completed 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards with 4 TDs as Dallas crushed Buffalo, 52-17. He was named league MVP.

In 1994, Dallas again won the Super Bowl, again blowing the Bills off the field. If they won again in 1995, they would become the first team in history to win three straight. But, Jones and Johnson couldn't keep their massive egos in check, each man taking credit for the team's success. Jones finally sacked Johnson, and hired Switzer. Despite the turmoil, the Cowboys almost returned to the Super Bowl, but were beaten in the NFC Championship game by the San Francisco 49ers.

In 1996, the Cowboys won a record-tying 5th Super Bowl, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Aikman threw for over 3,300 yards. That August, a book was published alleging that Aikman was a racist and Switzer planted rumors that Aikman was gay because he thought Aikman was trying to get him fired. In 1997, Aikman became the first QB in Dallas history to have 3 straight 3,000-yard seasons. However, the team missed the playoffs, and Switzer - suffering the first losing season of his career, coupled with his own off-the-field woes - quit in January 1998.

Revolving-door personnel changes plagued the Cowboys for the rest of Aikman's tenure. His pass protection failed him repeatedly as the team - stymied by the salary cap - began a long, painful decline. On December 10, 2000, Washington Redskins linebacker Lavar Arrington rammed Aikman so hard that his head literally bounced off the turf; it was the 10th concussion of his career. The Cowboys finished 5-11.

After he was waived a day before he was due a $7 million/7-year extension, Aikman - who thought he could still play, but found no takers - announced his retirement on April 9, 2001. He ended his career as the Cowboys' all-time leading passer (32,942 yards). His 90 wins in the 1990's is the most by any QB in any decade, and his 61.5% completion is 4th best of all time. But perhaps most importantly, on a team filled with bad apples, Aikman never made embarrassing headlines on or off the field.

After his retirement as a player, Aikman joined Fox's NFC telecasts as a color commentator for the 2001 season. A year later, he was named to the network's lead announcing crew, teaming with Joe Buck and Cris Collinsworth. Aikman received an Emmy Award nomination for his television work in 2004, and worked Fox's broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIX in January of 2005.

Aikman married former Cowboys employee Rhonda Worthey in 2000 after dating actresses Sandra Bullock and Janine Turner, and country singer Lorrie Morgan. They have two daughters, Jordan and Alexa.

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