Farewell to football
Aikman calls it quits after 12 years in Dallas
Updated: Tuesday April 10, 2001 12:20 AM
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 as he announced his plans. "And, my time's come."
Aikman suffered 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. I know it's the right thing for me because of my health, concussions, the back problems I've had. It took its toll," he said.
Aikman said the competitor in him wanted to continue, but he said his family weighed in his decision.
"I think when all things are considered it was the right thing for me and my family," Aikman said.
"I just can't do it anymore. If it was just me, then I think it would be a little easier to try to go on."
Aikman regained his composure as he talked about the 12 years he played for the Cowboys in a news conference that lasted almost an hour and a half as he went point by point thanking people.
"It was 12 of the best years of my life, professionally speaking," Aikman said. "We had some great fun."
"I'm going to miss the camaraderie with my teammates," he said. "I'm going to miss the locker room after a big game."
"I'm not going to miss being in that locker room explaining to the press how it was that we lost that game," Aikman said.
"This man has touched us all and for that we're grateful," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in introducing Aikman.
"He restored or embellished our belief that we want that our athletes can be heroes."
"Every season that we've got Troy at quarterback we've got a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
Aikman spoke after a film clip that covered Aikman from a young child to the Super Bowl.
Aikman said there are continued talks about a possible broadcasting career. "It looks like something that will take place." He said something could be announced in the next few days.
He didn't mention any specific networks, but Fox is expected to be the frontrunner to hire him.
The 34-year-old Aikman's future has been in limbo since he was waived by the Cowboys on March 7, a day before he was due a $7 million bonus and seven-year contract extension.
Aikman set nearly every team passing record and was among the best postseason quarterbacks in NFL history.
But he missed five games last season because of injuries and was knocked out of three more, all in the first quarter. When he played, Aikman lacked his trademark arm strength and accuracy, sinking him to the worst QB rating among NFC starters.
Aikman said last week that his back was his greatest concern.
Some fans have wanted Aikman to walk away since his concussions began adding up. While they feared the long-term implications of the head injuries, Aikman never flinched. He went out believing he could remain healthy and productive.
After a few weeks of looking around the NFL for openings, Aikman told Steinberg he was finally ready to listen to job offers from the broadcast networks that had been after him for years.
He is close to finalizing a deal with Fox to replace Matt Millen as the partner for play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton, an industry source told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. An announcement could come as early as Tuesday, the source said.
Without mentioning any specific networks, Aikman said a new job in television "looks like something that will take place," with an announcement in the next few days.
Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell confirmed there was interest in Aikman.
"We will look to have discussions with him about our analyst role," Bell said.
Aikman did color commentary on NFL Europe games for Fox two years ago. He enjoyed the experience more than he expected and received rave reviews.
Fox is looking for a game analyst to replace Millen, who joined the Detroit Lions as president and CEO.
ESPN also has an opening because NFL 2Night studio analyst Marty Schottenheimer left to coach the Washington Redskins.
Aikman is a natural for television because of his good looks and high profile. Aikman also is articulate and knows the game extremely well, traits Fox executives said came through in his NFL Europe work.
Aikman has been a marquee name since the Cowboys made him the No. 1 pick in the 1989 draft.
After losing his first 11 games, he led Dallas to Super Bowl titles after the 1992, '93 and '95 seasons. Only Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw have won as many Super Bowls.
Rather than joining Montana, Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas as quarterbacks who ended their careers in seemingly foreign uniforms, Aikman will forever be a Cowboy.
He also joins the list of NFL stars who have retired at least in part because of concussions.
Other notables include Steve Young, another Steinberg client, who reluctantly quit last summer, and Roger Staubach, who led Dallas to two Super Bowl titles before retiring in March 1980 at age 38.
Aikman always said wins and losses were his yardstick for success, not statistics.
Well, his 90 wins in 1990s are the most by any quarterback in any decade. He also won his first seven playoff games and 10 of his first 11, and he was the MVP of his first Super Bowl.
While his numbers aren't gaudy, they're still impressive: 2,898 of 4,715 passing (61.5 percent) for 32,942 yards, 165 touchdowns and 141 interceptions in the regular season and 320-of-502 (63.7 percent) for 3,849 yards, 23 TDs and 17 INTs in the postseason.
Aikman will still take up $10 million of Dallas' $67.4 million salary cap this season. Tony Banks recently signed a $500,000, one-year contract to replace him as the starter on a team that went 5-11 last season.