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IN 1989 the Dallas Cowboys were a franchise in need of a savior. They had missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, and it had been 12 years since team icon Roger Staubach had delivered an NFL championship to the Lone Star State. Enter Troy Aikman. The first pick in the '89 draft, Aikman broke into the NFL with high expectations. He showed promise during his rookie year but could not deliver a win as a starter (0-11), and the team finished the season 1-15. But Aikman would prove to be a quick study. In 1990 he passed for more than 2,500 yards, and in '91 he led the Cowboys back to the playoffs. The following season he reached the 10,000-yard plateau (by just his 52nd game) and claimed the first of his three Super Bowl championships.
With 90 wins in the 1990s, Aikman became the winningest starting quarterback of any decade. His viper-quick release, knack for scanning defenses and his arm strength and accuracy made the six-time Pro Bowl selection one of the most feared offensive players of his day. "When he was good," says former pro and legendary broadcaster Pat Summerall, "he was as good as I've ever seen."
FALLING ON HARD
A LONE STAR