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Troy Aikman Meme Destruction

troy aikman refuted

So I’ve got nothing against Troy Aikman. Always thought he was a real stand-up guy. Like him as a football player, and as a broadcaster. But this morning, something truly nonsensical came across my Facebook feed. This kind of nonsense was crying out for a refutation.

troy aikman

First Things First

Right off the bat, I’ll say that Aikman was a great quarterback. He won three Super Bowls. But a wise person once told me that you don’t bring yourself up by tearing other people down. So my qualms aren’t with Aikman here – but the nonsense of this stupid meme.

So I’m going to take this meme apart line-by-line


Leaving aside the Superbowls is one word, how is losing before you get to the Super Bowl better than getting to a Super Bowl and losing? Brady was also 3-0 in his first three Super Bowls.

But he managed to get back to four more after that.

After his third Super Bowl win, Aikman won only one more playoff game (a wild card game in 1996 over the Vikings) and then lost his final three playoff games. And was he good in any of those games, no. He threw only two touchdowns against seven interceptions in three games that weren’t exactly nail-biters.


The illegal contact rule for receivers has been in place since 1978. It was certainly in place during Aikman’s career. Roughing the quarterback was also on the books for Aikman’s era – as was the “Grasp and Control” rule intended to protect quarterbacks.

The only real rule significant change has been that you’re no longer allowed to dive at the quarterback’s knees. So while there’s more emphasis on protecting players now, there aren’t a great deal more rules.

On the other hand…

Troy Aikman’s Super Bowl teams were built in the pre-salary cap era, which wasn’t introduced in the NFL until 1994. Free Agency as we now know it didn’t come into being until 1993. So Aikman’s Super Bowls were won with the same group of Hall of Fame players around him.

So while Aikman didn’t have today’s exact rules structure, he did have Hall of Famer Emmit Smith running behind Hall of Famer Larry Allen and one of the greatest offensive lines of all time, and he was throwing the ball to Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. And this is to say nothing of Deion Sanders, Charles Haley and the Cowboys Hall of Famers on defense.


The NFL put radios in quarterback’s helmets in 1994, during Aikman’s career, not after.


Sometimes quarterbacks in that era did call their own plays. “Could I call my own plays?” said Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. “Sure, I could. But it was much different years ago. Back then, you only had a couple of defenses. It’s a different game today.”

But most plays still came from the sidelines, either from hand signals or substituted players bringing the play in with them. And as Aikman correctly points out, the game was a lot simpler then.

And this is to say nothing of the fact that Brady winds up calling most of his own plays at the line of scrimmage anyway, either through audibles or “check with me” plays. That the offense Brady is running is more complex than the one Aikman ran isn’t something a serious football fan should find themselves questioning.


I’ve covered this one before. I’m done with “The Tuck Rule”. Again, no salary cap.


As has been beaten to death, “Deflategate” was caused by the temperature in Foxboro. It’s been scientifically-proven that nobody tampered with any footballs whatsoever.


Oh really? What did Aikman’s Coach, Jimmy Johnson have to say about that?

“The only thing I can say is so many people made such a big to-do about it, and everybody – and I mean everybody – went to the edge on rules in one form or fashion,” Johnson said, reflecting on his coaching tenure with the Cowboys. “That’s just part of the game, that’s stealing the signals in baseball. This stuff has been going on for so long.

“When I came into the NFL, back in ’89, I talked to a Kansas City scout and he said, ‘Here’s what we do, we videotape the opposing team’s signals and then we synch it up with the game film.’ So I did it.”

So the Cowboys taped defensive signals as well.


And those men just happened to be a pretty good size group of Hall of Famers… Brady’s had an-ever changing cast of characters. None of the players from his first Super Bowl championship team suited up for his fifth. Not one.

As noted above, the salary cap came into being during Aikman’s career, as did free agency. And that took apart Aikman’s Cowboys. From 1997-2000, Aikman’s Cowboys went 24-28, missing the playoffs all four seasons as the salary cap did to them what it was designed to do.

It’s this comparison that makes Brady’s run all that more impressive.


The Numbers

Brady’s career record is 207-60 (playoffs and regular season). Aikman’s is 105-76.

That’s a staggering 102 fewer wins and 16 more losses. It’s not that Aikman’s not a great quarterback, it’s that Brady’s accomplishments are off-the charts.

In the playoffs, Aikman’s 11-5 is a great record. But Brady’s 25-9 is more than twice as good. Take Aikman’s record, and add 14 wins and 4 losses. That’s staggeringly good.

So Brady essentially had Aikman’s career and then had another Hall of Fame career on top of it.


The Ruling

It takes nothing away from Troy Aikman that he hasn’t had the career that Tom Brady has had. Nothing.

But Cowboys fans aren’t doing themselves any favors with this kind of foolish meme. We’ve come to expect this kind of thing from Giants fans.

You’re better than that? Aren’t you?

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Mike Cooney
Mike is a lifelong Boston sports fan. He's got a degree in journalism from Northeastern University, and has been writing about sports in various methods since the mid-1990's. He's gotten to meet Bobby Orr, Luis Tiant, Rich Gedman, Nomar Garciaparra, and once shut out Carlos Pena's two twin brothers in a game of foosball at McCoy Stadium.