HE HAD MADE his
mark, and now he wanted to build a house for himself. For months Troy Aikman
scoured the countryside outside Dallas looking for the right piece of land, and
when he found it, he knew. This was the spot: a 30-acre tract offered by Ross
Perot Jr., a natty square of God's country next to where Terry Bradshaw lived.
How serendipitous this seemed. Bradshaw had accumulated four Super Bowl rings,
Aikman two. But this wasn't what sold Aikman on the place. Here the trees grew
thick and tall, and the earth rolled, and on clear nights you could see the
magisterial city skyline 30 miles away.
Aikman hired an
architect. One day they met to make plans in a room at the modish Valley Ranch
complex where the Dallas Cowboys train. Modish wasn't what Aikman wanted,
though. "I wanted part California ranch and part country," he says,
"but nothing too ranch or too country." It was perfect, what they
finally came up with. It covered 12,500 square feet of living area--big enough
for a man who throws one of the best passes in the game. But in the end, Aikman
couldn't go through with it.
problem was cost. Bids had run close to $4 million. He had the money, but what
if his career suddenly ended or if he decided to leave Dallas and make a home
elsewhere? Who would buy the house? Who has money to spend on a house whose
only statement is this: Troy Aikman Troy Aikman Troy Aikman...?
Then there was the
second problem--more a consideration, actually, than a problem. Aikman wasn't
married. He was 28 years old, and suppose he took on a wife and she didn't like
the house? He refused to stick the woman he loved in a home that did not speak
to her heart. "I have an idea of marriage as being a sharing type of
deal," Aikman says. "If I build a house, I want her involved. I want
her to have some say in the decision."
That Aikman would
choose to conserve a few bucks is understandable, even commendable, but that he
has been able to dodge marriage for this long is one of those mysteries that
defy human comprehension. Aikman, who turned 29 in November 1995, might be the
most eligible bachelor to play in the NFL since Joe Willie Namath hung up his
white cleats, and while this is an image for which many single men would sell
their mortal souls, it isn't one Aikman appreciates. He would rather have a
wife and four kids.
thought I'd be married by now," he says, "but that was because I dated
the same girl for seven years. After we broke up, I dated somebody else for a
year and a half, and that ran into my rookie season. If you had asked me then
how old I'd be when I got married, I'd have said, 'Oh, 26, 27.' Well, here I am
not even seriously involved with anybody."
It's his own
fault, of course. "Troy," says guard-center Dale Hellestrae, his best
friend on the team, "has more opportunities with women than any man on this
earth. But he's got his particular tastes, and he's not going to settle for
anything below his sight level. I've never tried to set him up, because I don't
think I could find anyone who'd meet his qualifications."
Aikman has every
right to hold out for just the right gal. To start, he's rich beyond practical
measure. On Dec. 23, 1993, he signed an eight-year, $50 million contract that
made him the highest-paid player in pro football history. He's also tall, blond
and blue-eyed: the kind of dreamboat who used to star in horse and tank
pictures. He is, moreover, the leader of the most valuable franchise in all of
sports, placing it year after year in a position to compete for the Super
dream season in Green Bay gave him the highest rating among NFC quarterbacks in
1995, but Aikman wasn't far behind. And no player means more to his team than
Aikman does. Dallas isn't Dallas when he isn't on the field, and nobody is more
aware of this than the Cowboys' players themselves.
During a recent
film session at Valley Ranch, receiver Michael Irvin watched in stunned silence
as Aikman fired off one perfect pass after another, his delivery as quick and
sharp as anybody's. Unable to contain himself any longer, Irvin beat his hands
together and shouted in something of a singsong voice, "I love you,
'Roy." It was spontaneous and beautiful, and everyone in the room laughed,
but Irvin meant it. "I attribute my success to him," Irvin says.
"The greatest things, the greatest times--Troy is 100-percent responsible,
and even then I'm understating it."