Troy Aikman Had Rough Start to NFL Career

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Troy Aikman is heralded as a hero in Cowboys lore, but folks forget where he came from. Aikman was the first overall pick in the 1989 draft, but wasn’t listed as a starter until his third season (1991).

troy aikman

It appears as though once a QB get’s a Super Bowl ring, everything else is forgotten. Troy Aikman had a very slow start to his career. In fact, many fans wanted his head on a platter. I remember talk of the first overall pick being a bust and Jimmy Johnson got the blame.

Many folks are content with Kellen Moore’s NFL debut, but there are members of the media and fans alike who are quick to say he is not the long term answer. Their words are full of venom and hate. The same thing happened to Troy Aikman and Tony Romo.

kellen moore vs troy aikmanIt is no easy task stepping in for the Cowboys franchise QB, Tony Romo: expectations are high. Troy Aikman was in a similar situation. Roger Staubach was a football God and he and Danny White were a part of 20 consecutive winning seasons and 7 NFC Championship appearances. Staubach never experienced a losing season.

When Troy Aikman, the first overall pick in the draft only completed 17 of 35 passes (48.6%), for a meager 180 yards, zero touchdowns and 2 interceptions for a passer rating of 40.2 in his NFL debut: the 28-0 thrashing they received from the New Orleans Saints had fans in an outrage! I was there folks. Quarterbacks just didn’t play like that in Dallas. He was labeled a bust!

Oh it get’s worse. In his third NFL game against the rival Redskins he completed 6 of 21 passes (28.6%) for 83 yards (4.0 YPR) zero touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 4.0. The lowest of any QB in Cowboys history that became a long term starter. The Redskins thrashed them 30-7. You can’t imagine the fans reactions. Tom Landry had been fired, Staubach was retired and this new owner used the first overall pick on this scrub? Jones and Johnson were the two most hated men in the universe!

Despite attending training camp, getting first team reps and being the first overall pick in the draft: Troy Aikman finished his first NFL season with numbers that already had the nails in the new regimes’ coffins. The Cowboys record was 1-15. Aikman completed 155 of 293 passes (52.9%) for a meager 1,749 yards, 9 TDs and 18 interceptions for a passer rating of 55.7. Damn, no one wants to remember, let alone talk about that.

tony romo vs troy aikmanThe Cowboys had numerous quarterback failures following the retirement of Troy Aikman, and then; Bill Parcells shocked the world with an undrafted free agent from a division II school, Eastern Illinois. It was a kid named Tony Romo. Most had never heard of him and many didn’t even know he had been on the Cowboys practice squad for a few years. Unlike Kellen Moore, Romo never attended a Division I school. He never commanded the offense of a team ranked 3rd in the nation and he definitely never won 3 out of 4 bowl games or became a Heisman finalist.

He surely wasn’t the winningest QB in NCAA history with a 50-3 record. But, he was in the same shoes as Moore. He was in the shadow of Troy Aikman, he was undrafted, was in his 4th NFL season and had never taken a snap in a regular season game when Bill Parcells benched Drew Bledsoe and threw him in to the fire mid game.

Much like Troy Aikman, Romo was in a better position than Kellen Moore because he had been to training camp four times with the Cowboys and had plenty of time to learn the offense. (Keep in mind, Kellen Moore has never attended camp with the Cowboys and only had 3 practices with the starters.)

In Tony Romo’s NFL debut he completed 14 of 25 passes (56.0%) for 227 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions for a passer rating of 73.7. The Cowboys lost to the rival Giants, 36-22. However, he went on to finish the season completing 220 of 337 passes (65.3%) for 2,903 yards 19 TDs and 13 interceptions for a passer rating of 95.1 and a playoff berth.

Romo had a much better beginning than Troy Aikman, but the fans wanted his head on a platter. He was a choker according to the media. The fans believed it too.

Tony Romo is the only active QB in the NFL to have played at least five NFL seasons and never had a passer rating below 90. In fact, before being sidelined with a broken Clavicle, he entered this season with the second highest career passer rating in NFL history. Troy Aikman is currently ranked 50th. Well below the likes of Brad Johnson and Rich Gannon.

peyton manning Peyton Manning was another first overall pick who is not only considered a football God, but came from very humble beginnings. He too attended training camp and got all of the first team reps in practice. In his NFL debut he completed 21 of 37 passes (56.8%) for 302 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions for a passer rating of 58.6. He finished his first NFL season completing 328 of 575 passes (56.7%) for 3,739 yards, 26 TDs and 28 interceptions for a passer rating of 71.2.

The point I am trying to make here is: take a chill pill! Relax; Kellen Moore had one NFL game with no training camp, only three practices with the starters and played pretty much the same as the above mentioned franchise QBs did in their first game. Much better than Troy Aikman! When the media talks about his size, think about Russel Wilson and Drew Brees. When they talk about his arm strength think about Joe Montana. When they talk about his experience and draft status think about Tony Romo.

The rule of thumb in the NFL is: never judge a player by the eye test. Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel both have the physical intangibles coveted by fans and scouts, but despite having plenty of time as NFL starters to prove they could become franchise QBs, they couldn’t even survive as backups. Unless  Kellen Moore fails the opportunity he has been given after attending training camp and/or receiving sufficient reps with the starters, I would advise you keep your mouth shut or you will look as much the fool as the droves who cast stones at Troy Aikman and Tony Romo for humble beginnings. He played half a game folks. Relax and enjoy the ride. “ROMO” wasn’t built in half a game.

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  • Californy

    wow, I bet you most fans remember it the other way, Troy was a stud already game one of his career.

  • Californy

    I often use Troy stats in 1994, 13 Td to 11 Interception, and him earning a pro Bowl invitation that year too, despite having 8 pro Bowl Player on offense too.

    For me I usually dont look at individual stats but more at team stats at team wins.

  • Californy

    I often use Troy stats in 1994, 13 Td to 11 Interception, and him earning a pro Bowl invitation that year too, despite having 8 pro Bowl Player on offense too.

    For me I usually dont look at individual stats but more at team stats at team wins.

  • Californy

    Nice Article Al, Im sure some Diehard Cowboy fans with a fade memory would call you a lier on this report. lol

  • Californy

    I sure kellen would rather build on  his resume by doing the things he does well rather than tear down a Cowboy legend to get his place in team History

  • Californy

    I sure kellen would rather build on  his resume by doing the things he does well rather than tear down a Cowboy legend to get his place in team History

  • Californy

    I could never understand why many though Moore was going to be a bust base on his size and arm strength.  I hope he proves them wrong like Brady does, playing with a chip on his shoulder

  • Californy most of the current fans were not fans his rookie year. They jumped on the bandwagon when they started winning super bowls

  • Californy

    albeam17