Troy Aikman considered a number of teams after leaving Cowboys

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With Patriots quarterback Tom Brady about to embark on free agency, and openly discussing the idea of playing for someone other than the Patriots, it’s worth remembering he’s far from the first future Hall of Famer to make a late-career cameo elsewhere.

Whether it’s Peyton Manning with the Broncos or Joe Montana with the Chiefs, there have been plenty of examples of quarterbacks who had to finish elsewhere on the way out.

Former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman avoided that, but barely.

Aikman told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times that he met with the Chargers and nearly signed a contract with them in 2001 after he was released by the Cowboys, and also considered the Eagles and Dolphins.

During a trip to San Diego to see old friend and former coach Norv Turner, Aikman ended up visiting with Chargers owner Dean Spanos, and Turner nearly talked him into playing again.

“I had dinner with Norv, and I remember sitting with Norv at the restaurant saying, ‘Gosh, I just wish I knew what the future held. These last few years in Dallas have been really hard, and I just don’t want to be put in another situation where we’re just not competitive. I just wish I had a crystal ball,'” Aikman recalled. “Norv gave me one of those great talks, and he said, ‘The greatness of this is we don’t know, and as competitors, you don’t want to know. You want to lay it all on the line, take the risks, and see what can happen.’

“I said, ‘You know, you’re right. I want to come here and play.’ I was excited about it.”

Chargers G.M. John Butler had other ideas, and signed Doug Flutie instead. At that point, Aikman thought he was content to retire.

But then in 2002 he almost got dragged out of the booth, literally, to join the Eagles.

He said then-Eagles coach Andy Reid called him during a game he was working for Fox. Donovan McNabb had just been injured, and Reid was looking for help in a hurry.

“I stepped out of the booth and called Andy, and he explained the situation,” Aikman said. “He said, ‘Hey, we’re playing in San Francisco on Monday night, and you’ll be the starter.’ I said, ‘Andy, I haven’t played in two years.’ He says, ‘You’ll be all right.’ I told him I didn’t even know the offense, and he says, ‘That’s OK. Same concepts. We’ll make it work. You’ll be fine.'”

Aikman asked if he could sleep on it, and ultimately decided to pass.

He said he also considered re-joining Turner with the Dolphins in 2002 and 2003, and talked to Dave Wannstedt about the possibility, but the Dolphins got cold feet about the deal and signed A.J. Feeley instead.

Reading Aikman’s words, there’s a clear sense of the pull on players who have been great to keep going, to keep chasing that competitive feeling and the chance to win again.

That’s what Brady’s looking for now.

16 responses to “Troy Aikman considered a number of teams after leaving Cowboys

  1. Then there’s that voice coming from the other shoulder that tells you to go out while you’re still competitive and not completely prove that you’re incapable of being the same QB you were regardless of what that “competitive feeling” is and no matter how much you want the chance to win. Every QB has that chance to win every season.

    Why mar up a 20-year career and risk yourself for serious injury when otherwise there’s nothing left to accomplish and the money is all but meaningless. Everyone gets it, but dang, if all you have in life is football, …

    Just sayin’.

  2. 3 Super Bowl wins got him into the HOF but at the end he was suffering from multiple concussions and based on his revisionist history he’s spewing they obviously had an effect. No Troy, the last couple of years you were terrible & after Lavar Arrington hit you so hard on the sidelines you looked like the special kid who’s dad beat him repeatedly for several weeks.

  3. The facts don’t fully check out with this story. Aikman found the “last few years” in Dallas really hard, even though the final 3 involved 2 playoff trips before bottoming out at 5-11 (with Aikman also bottoming out, playing just 11 games and playing poorly). Meanwhile, the Chargers hadn’t made the playoffs for 6 seasons and had just completed one of the worst seasons of all time, 1-15! They ended up drafting Drew Brees at the top of round 2, and given the signing of placeholder Flutie it appears that the Chargers were looking for a veteran who could help teach a rookie, not a “competitor” who would be rejuvenated by leaving a sliding situation (for an even worse one). Hmm. I don’t doubt, however, that he was getting attention at times, particularly that

  4. It’s also a different league today that protects quarterbacks. To some degree, Aikman laid the groundwork for the rule changes by taking the beatings he did. I remember Lavar Arrington of the Redskins just klobbering Aikman in his head when he took a slide and was even near the sideline.
    Of course all of this about Aikman considering other teams is old news. The underlying question relating to Brady, and his desire to keep playing. Again, I think it’s much easier for Brady to do than it would have been for Aikman. If Troy played with modern rules, he’d have easily played another 5 years.

  5. Brady might be going back to California sources say the Chargers are trying to convince Tom to sign a 2 year deal with them… we’ll see whos really calling the shots now, because everyone knows Bob Kraft loves Brady like a son so if Tom gets another contract in New England it will be because of Kraft not Belichick. Bill wanted to trade Brady not Jimmy G but Kraft nixed that idea and it worked out for another Superbowl, but long term Jimmy G was always going to be the right answer, and now the Pats are stuck

  6. “He said he also considered re-joining Turner with the Dolphins in 2002 and 2003, and talked to Dave Wannstedt about the possibility, but the Dolphins got cold feet about the deal and signed A.J. Feeley instead.”

    The Dolphins traded for AJ Feeley in 2004

  7. I remember watching the infamous “pickle juice” Philly game. Aikman got absolutely punished that day. I remember feeling sorry for him. His days looked numbered from that game on.

  8. The ignorance here is off the hook, Aikman wasn’t happy towards the end because Barry Switzer starting letting the inmates run the asylum and he knew it wouldn’t end well.

    He was one hell of a leader and those who didn’t watch him play have no idea just how great he was because they only have stats to look at.

  9. “Chargers G.M. John Butler had other ideas, and signed Doug Flutie instead. At that point, Aikman thought he was content to retire.”

    No disrespect to Flutie – lots of love for him – but I can see how having him signed ahead of you would be a loud message to retire for Aikman.

  10. He had one team interested and that was Minnesota. The teams that were mildly brought up were scared away by concussions. He was very close to signing with the Vikings

  11. The 2002 Dolphins with a Healthy Troy Aikman and peak Ricky Williams could have won the Super Bowl that year… they had SIX pro bowlers on that defense. Man that’s frustrating in 20/20 hindsight. Three years later the Dolphins couldn’t decide between Ronnie Brown and Aaron Rodgers… they chose Brown.

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