Troy Aikman is the embodiment of the Dallas Cowboys. He made his name with the organization en route to winning three Super Bowl titles as the team’s star quarterback. After he retired, he moved up to the broadcast booth and has covered the team as an analyst for Fox Sports. This week Aikman made his regular appearance on a Dallas radio station and provided a look into the future of the club and the direction it’s heading. It was a sobering assessment and exactly what Cowboys fans didn’t want to hear.
Dallas Cowboys have struggled since Troy Aikman left
During Troy Aikman’s dozen seasons in Dallas, he earned six Pro Bowl appearances, and more importantly, guided the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in 1992, 1993, and 1995. He retired from the Cowboys after the 2000 season.
Since his retirement, the Dallas Cowboys have made the playoffs just seven times. They have never made it past the divisional round of the playoffs. This lack of success can be attributed to a variety of reasons, including a carousel of quarterbacks. Since Aikman retired, the Cowboys have had 18 different signal-callers up to Andy Dalton’s substitution on Sunday.
Another telling sign and reason for the diminishing returns can be found in the instability in leadership. Since 1994, or the last 26 years, the club has gone through seven head coaches. Tom Landry was head coach of the Cowboys for 29 years.
Troy Aikman personally witnessed the rise and decline of the Cowboys
While Jerry Jones has held the title of owner-general manager since he purchased the team in 1989, he was the GM in name only during the first four years of his ownership. When he bought the team, he hired Jimmy Johnson and allowed him to coach and control personnel decisions.
During Johnson’s tenure, he was the architect who built the team into a dynasty. He pulled off the trade that sent Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings and earned the Cowboys numerous high draft picks. He was the one who drafted Aikman. He drafted Emmitt Smith.
But Johnson didn’t just rely on a high-powered offense. He assembled a roster of quality defensive players as well, including Russell Maryland and Darren Woodson. That combination on both sides of the ball led to the Cowboys rise to the top of the NFL and the most successful period in the club’s storied history.
Aikman says the future appears to be more of the same
The split between Jones and Johnson following the 1993 season is well documented. Two seasons after Johnson’s departure, the Dallas Cowboys were able to win another Super Bowl under Barry Switzer with much of the roster Johnson had assembled. Since that victory, the Dallas Cowboys have been average at best. Coincidentally, there has been one constant during this time of futility — Jerry Jones has been the general manager and responsible for making personnel decisions.
In Troy Aikman’s weekly radio appearance on 96.7 FM, The Ticket, Aikman was asked about how much the organizational structure of the Cowboys has changed through the years. Aikman offered an honest and sobering assessment for Cowboys fans.
“I don’t think the structure’s really changed that much… I don’t think Jerry’s any less involved. There’s talk that Stephen [Jones] has more say than he once did,” Aikman said. “But ultimately, I would be shocked if who’s making all the decisions or final say anyway is not Jerry Jones. So from that standpoint, I don’t think it’s changed that much and I don’t expect that it will. I think it’s just something that Jerry’s very passionate about and involved with, whether you like that or not that’s the way that it is and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
For Cowboys fans, that means more mediocre seasons with a continuing carousel of coaches and quarterbacks, where, on occasion, the team might make it to the playoffs, but won’t come anywhere near a Super Bowl, much less winning one. And that’s the harsh reality of it until Jerry decides to step away.