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Aikman enjoying life after football

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2002

WACO, Texas -- Troy Aikman still believes he can play in the NFL. A year after he was cut by the Dallas Cowboys, though, he doesn't miss it as much as he thought he would.

''There's a general perception that I'm looking to get back into the league, and that's really not true,'' Aikman said. ''I'm very happy doing what I'm doing with Fox and I'm happy right now in my personal life with my family.

''It was a really good year for me and it would take a pretty good situation football-wise for me to get out of that and back on the field.''

Aikman wasn't as ready to walk away from the game when the Cowboys cut him last March because of salary cap and health concerns. It took another month before the quarterback who won three Super Bowls decided to retire.

He has since found contentment as a husband, father and NFL broadcaster for the Fox network.

''I've put it all in perspective. This is another part of my life,'' said Aikman, 35, who Tuesday night was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

Aikman's wife, Rhonda, is expecting another daughter in August. The couple also has a 6-month-old daughter and are raising a 12-year-old daughter from her previous marriage.

Since his retirement, Aikman said he has been contacted by ''a few teams'' to gauge his level of interest in playing.

''I'm certainly not going out of my way trying to figure out where I can latch on with a team,'' Aikman said. ''If I had wanted to play, I could have played last season and be with a team right now.''

Aikman instead anticipates returning to the broadcast booth with the Fox network in the fall. He was hired by Fox right after his retirement, and worked with former teammate Daryl Johnston and play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said one of the hardest decisions he's ever had to make was cutting Aikman, the first player he drafted after buying the team in 1989. Aikman was waived a day before he was owed a $7 million bonus and seven-year contract extension.

But Jones figured it was best to take last season's one-time $10 million salary cap hit for Aikman rather than have that expensive contract lingering for several more years.

Not only were there financial concerns, but Aikman suffered four of his 10 concussions in his last 20 starts and had a lingering back problem. In 2000, his final season, he missed five games with injuries and was knocked out of three more in the first half.

Aikman, the No. 1 pick in the 1989 draft, had 32,942 career passing yards with 165 touchdowns. He is the Cowboys' career leader in passing yards, touchdowns, completions (2,898) and attempts (4,715), and his 90 wins in 1990s are the most by any quarterback in any decade.

''I'm proud of what our teams accomplished and I'm happy with how my career went,'' Aikman said. ''When you get drafted No. 1, there are a lot of expectations. I felt like I was able to meet those.

''But once I announced my retirement, I haven't given a lot of thought to what I accomplished as a football player. That time of my life is gone.''



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