NFL

Troy Aikman’s Relationship With Jimmy Johnson Started Long Before the Cowboys

Troy Aikman and Jimmy Johnson were two of the biggest factors in the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the ’90s. Aikman was the team’s quarterback for their three Super Bowl wins and Johnson coached them to two of those titles.

They are well-known throughout the sports world for their association with the squad that is known as America’s Team, and they’re now colleagues at Fox Sports. Their relationship began earlier than most realize, though. The Aikman-Johnson relationship when the quarterback was in high school and the coach tried to recruit him.

Jimmy Johnson tries to recruit high schooler Troy Aikman

Aikman attended Henryetta High School in Oklahoma. He quarterbacked the team to the state playoffs in his junior year — Henryetta’s first playoff appearance in 30 years.

He led the team to a 6-4 record in his senior season, when he received all-state honors. His performance on the gridiron led to him being recruited by a number of high-profile colleges.

One of the collegiate coaches who tried to get Aikman to attend his school was Johnson, who was the head coach at Oklahoma State at the time. Aikman recalled on an Instagram post that Johnson “was the first to recruit” him, but he ultimately decided on UCLA.

Troy Aikman and Jimmy Johnson come together in Dallas

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Johnson became the Cowboys’ head coach for the 1989 season, which was the same year that the Cowboys took Aikman with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The two had a rough start to their professional partnership — the Cowboys went 1-15 in 1989 and 7-9 in 1990 — but then became one of the most dominant teams in the league.

Their final three seasons together in Dallas were 1991-93, and they made the postseason in all of those years. Aikman led the team to an 11-5 record in 1991, when they lost to the Lions in the divisional round. They were 13-3 in 1992 and 12-4 in ’93, and they won the Super Bowl in each of those two seasons.

Even after starting 1-15 their first year together, Aikman and Johnson combined to go 44-36 in five seasons in Dallas, with the three playoff appearances and two championships.

The Spun reports that Aikman credits Johnson with being the architect of the Cowboys dynasty and that he made Aikman better through his coaching and leadership with the team.” All told, from high school recruiting to now, Aikman says his relationship with Johnson spans more than 35 years.

Both are in the Hall of Fame

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Unsurprisingly, both men have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Troy Aikman was inducted in 2006 in his first year of eligibility.

Jimmy Johnson, however, has had to wait longer to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was voted in as part of the class of 2020, which has yet to be officially inducted.

Johnson found out while on the air during last season’s playoffs, when Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker appeared in the Fox studio to share the good news with Johnson. Aikman, who was calling the game, was shown on camera tearing up at the news that his former coach and longtime friend is finally joining him in Canton.

Aikman’s emotional reaction to the news shows how close the two men are and the special bond that they have developed in more than three decades of knowing each other and working together.

Aikman said that, as the architect of the ’90s Cowboys, Johnson “should have been the first to be enshrined” from the team, but Aikman says that he is “so grateful he will have his rightful place” in the Hall of Fame, continuing that Johnson’s “gonna look good in gold!”