Collected Wisdom: Troy Aikman, Fox Sports analyst and former Dallas Cowboys/Oklahoma quarterback

Mike Baldwin catches up with the NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, who is now an analyst for Fox Sports.
by Michael Baldwin Published: February 4, 2013

A lot of positives for me came out of some times I thought were going to be setbacks for me. I've learned to embrace the difficult times a little bit better. Nobody, I don't care who it is, doesn't go through life without having some setbacks and having some bad things happen. A big part of going on and making your life what you want it to be is being able to persevere.

Whether you're a parent or friend, something that you say to a kid might be the difference for maybe getting them going in the right direction to pursue a dream.

When I look back on it, I had two great years on campus at Oklahoma. Unfortunately football-wise I didn't go there to run the option. I think everyone would agree that I shouldn't have (been asked to run the option). But they were good years and they were good people. I still root for the Sooners. Barry Switzer, Merv Johnson, Charlie North, I could go down the list of a lot of coaches I still think a lot of and were icons in the professional world.

Jimmy Johnson had a tremendous impact on my career and our entire football team. He was the architect behind getting those talented players and building our roster. There were other people we couldn't have done it without, but he certainly was a big part of that. He's a good friend who is now living stress free. I admire him for that.

I had Barry Switzer on both sides (NFL and college). I think he was at a different stage of his life when he came to Dallas. When they tell the story of college football, Barry Switzer is awfully high on that list. I enjoyed my time playing for him. I loved his confidence, his willingness to tell the players, ‘You're great.' Most coaches don't want to do that. He was the complete opposite. He went against all those things. He made it very clear that he wasn't afraid to tell us how good we were.

The hardest-working guy we had was Michael Irvin. He was the heart and soul of our team. He was a great leader. He practiced every day like he was running routes in the Super Bowl.

What can you say about Emmitt Smith? To end up doing what he accomplished (becoming the all-time leading rusher), you have to play at a very high level. The fact you could rely on him to be in the backfield playing every week was a real credit to him. That's not something you can say about very many guys at that position.

Deion (Sanders) came a little bit later but certainly brought some flamboyancy to our team. He was a great cover corner, the best I ever played against or was around. He was a real showman, there's no doubt.

Winning three Super Bowls was a good time. I learned after the first one that I really needed to enjoy it as we went through those processes. With each game, I started to soak it in a little bit more and appreciate how hard it was and what it ultimately meant. When we won our last one in '95 I didn't think that would be the last time that we'd go back. And I would have never imagined that five years later I'd be retired from football. Things happened pretty quickly after that ('95 season). But it was a great run with great guys. In a lot of ways it made my post-playing career, doing things I'm doing now.

by Michael Baldwin
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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