It has been a long time since the 1990s Dallas Cowboys were dominating opponents week after week, and since a lot has changed. For starters, the current Cowboys are still looking to replicate that success, but that is a topic for a different day. The Cowboys, those Cowboys, are largely still a part of football culture as many of them have prominent spots in the media.
What’s more is that many former Cowboys now even have podcasts. Tony Casillas can be heard every week on the Blogging The Boys podcast as an example. Two of Casillas’ teammates got together on a different show recently and talked about a variety of things.
Troy Aikman says that he knew his legacy would be defined by championships
Kids these days know Troy Aikman as the top color analyst for FOX, but he obviously put together one of the best careers to ever happen in the NFL as the leader for the Cowboys in the 90s. He joined his teammate back then, Darren Woodson, on The Darren Woodson Show recently to talk about a whole lot of things, but obviously football came up.
Aikman’s football life appears solid in retrospect as he has three Super Bowl rings and a bronze bust on his career résumé, however, things were not always so bright and sunny. Aikman experienced some trials early on in college, and certainly early on in the NFL. He was asked how he compartmentalized success when he finally found it with the Cowboys.
“At the time, whenever teams had gone on and won a Super Bowl, then they always talked about the Super Bowl hangover the following season and how they struggled. And they typically had. Most teams had struggled after they’d won a Super Bowl. Guys are doing book deals or appearances, you kind of lose the focus I guess. It was always strange to me because after we won our championship I thought ‘man that’s such a magical time’ and the feelings you have when you go through that playoff run and win a Super Bowl… to me it only fueled the drive that much more. How do you not want to feel this every year? I got even more motivated to win at all costs. And so that’s really where it came from. And then knowing that we had become an offense that…”
“There’s this idea that all we did was run the ball. And we ran the ball obviously and we ran the ball well, but we threw the ball really well, too. Early on in games in the first halves we would throw the ball more than we would run it and then we’d close out games running the ball. If you go back and look at a number of those years – our best years – our yards per pass, we were number one a few times, we were top three. So we didn’t throw it as much as Miami or San Francisco or Green Bay, but when we did throw it we threw it as well if not better than anybody who did. So we were a really good throwing team. But with that being said I knew that I was going to win passing titles or touchdowns, I would have loved to have thrown the ball more than we did. But my legacy was going to be about winning championships. That’s why I’m in the Hall of Fame. I know that. So I knew that early on that this is how I’m going to be defined. And quite honestly I was okay with that. That’s the way as it should be, especially as a quarterback. I think that only fueled me a little bit more.”
“The frustration for me as I move through my career is, I just felt that there were a lot of decisions being made that I had no control over, and yet they were reflecting on me because of how we were playing on the field. And so I knew what it was like when I first got in the league and we weren’t very good, and then I know what it was like when we got good, that five-, six-year window, and through that you earn some respect. You earn respect in your own locker room. And you earn respect around the league. And I felt like I was at risk of giving that up because of nothing that I could control. And that’s where the frustration became… each year it got more and more frustrating. I really felt that I’d go on and play after I left the Cowboys, it didn’t obviously work out that way. My career was cut a little bit short. It really was not due to injury. It was due to just, finally at a breaking point, and not wanting to continue to do the things or go along with the things that were being done in Dallas.”
Aikman touched on a lot of things with this answer, but firstly it is not shocking to see that his priority above all else was winning. Aikman is one of the most successful winners in NFL history and he willed and fueled the Cowboys as their leader during the 1990s to achieve all that they did (obviously he wasn’t alone).
Many people do tend to lean on the idea that Aikman rode the success that Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys rushing attack provided, but as he noted, that is far from the truth. Troy Aikman is one of the greatest passers to ever live.
Aikman has spoken before about how he almost played for a non-Cowboys team after he left the organization and it is understandable to see how decisions that were out of his control would start to become a factor. The Cowboys are regarded as the team of the 1990s, but they were not a functional franchise at the end of the decade and that clearly took a toll in a variety of ways.
Troy Aikman is one of the greatest Dallas Cowboys of all time and seeing how he wanted to win even more after the team finally reached the top of the mountain is in lock step with those that watched him play. We will always wish that the Cowboys had been able to win more in any era, but Aikman did his best to leave very little left to want in that department.