If his insurance forms are any indication, Troy Aikman appears committed to his new profession. "I was filling one out the other day that asked for my occupation," Aikman says. "It was the first time I ever wrote down broadcaster—and I didn't think twice about it."
At 34, Aikman, who retired in April after 12 seasons as the Cowboys' quarterback and three Super Bowl rings, is a rookie again. He's an analyst for Fox's No. 2 NFL broadcast team, alongside play-by-play man Dick Stockton and former Dallas backfieldmate Daryl Johnston. Aikman considers himself a work in progress, grading himself "average" after six regular-season broadcasts. That assessment is a bit harsh. While still unpolished, Aikman is bright; he offers interesting insights, especially into quarterback play (on Sunday, before Fox's pregame show, he conducted an informative interview with St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner); and, best of all, he hasn't hesitated to be critical. During the Oct. 14 Buccaneers-Titans game, after a graphic revealed how Tampa Bay's total offense had long ranked in the NFL's netherworld, Aikman observed, "[ Bucs coach] Tony [Dungy] says he likes the way they play offense. They play not to make mistakes, not to lose ball games. In essence what he's saying is that he likes an offense that ranks in the bottom third of the league."
Oddly enough, Aikman is doing more film work as a television analyst than he did as a quarterback. "Back then I only watched the defense, in particular the secondary and linebackers," he says. "Now I'm watching not only the defense but also the offense for both teams."
Aikman's loyalties—new job and old team—will conflict on Nov. 4, when he'll call his first Dallas TV game, against the Giants. Two weeks later he'll be at Texas Stadium to do Cowboys-Eagles. "People who think we're going to be pro-Dallas—they're probably going to feel that whether it's accurate or not," he says of himself and Johnston. "But I do believe D.J. and I will handle those games as we would any other game."
Earlier in the season Aikman left the door slightly open for a return to quarterbacking. That's no longer the case. "My gut tells me no," he says, when asked if he'll play next season. "I'm approaching broadcasting for the long haul. As far as [missing] the playing part of it, that hasn't been as difficult a transition as I'd anticipated. The difficult thing is that I feel like a rookie all over again."