Troy Aikman walked down the hallway of the OU football locker room — in the days before it was named the Switzer Center — and appeared out of place. He looked like a high school kid that October day in 1984.
That face that eventually would steal young girls’ hearts and be compared to Mickey Mantle’s and JFK’s had to develop. He seemed awfully young to be walking the hallway of Sims and the Selmons.
Which he was. Aikman still was a month shy of his 18th birthday, just out of Henryetta High School, and already he had an Oklahoma football loss laid at his feet. Aikman, an emergency starter at Kansas when Danny Bradley was injured and Mike Clopton was declared ineligible, was overwhelmed in a 28-11 Jayhawk victory.
Football Olympus seemed very far away.
You know the rest. A quarter century later, Aikman is an American icon. The stoic quarterback of three Dallas Cowboy Super Bowl championships. A Pro Football Hall of Famer. The lead analyst for FOX’s NFL broadcasts.
Aikman blossomed quickly. Threw the ball unlike any Oklahoma quarterback ever, early in the 1985 season before a broken leg against Miami ended his year. With the Sooners committed to the wishbone, Aikman transferred to UCLA, became Dallas’ No. 1 draft pick and matched Roger Staubach’s franchise record for playoff victories by a quarterback, with 11.
Now Aikman is going into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. His path has been the American dream. Most times, we forget how dreams are realized. They rarely come easy and they rarely come quick.
They didn’t for Aikman. Lucky for us, we had a front-row seat for the journey.