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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, March 8, 2001

Heartaik(man) over
breakup of the ’Boys

WHERE have all the Cowboys gone? When the Dallas Cowboys waived quarterback Troy Aikman yesterday, zing went the strings of my heart, severing yet another personal emotional link with America's Team.

Only running back Emmitt Smith is left among the good ol' 'Boys. All-Pro tackle Larry Allen came on the scene later.

Aikman, Nate Newton, Daryl Johnston, Michael Irvin, Kevin Gogan, Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Ken Norton.

No, I haven't forgotten the late Mark Tuinei. He was the main reason why I started rooting for the Cowboys. He and another former University of Hawaii defensive standout, Larry Cole.

If a quarterback is the heart and soul of a football team, imagine the loss of Aikman to the Cowboys and their fans. He was their QB for 12 years.

Aikman holds nearly all of the Dallas passing records -- 2,898 completions, 32,942 yards and 165 touchdowns -- and left only a few scraps for Roger Staubach.

Out of UCLA, Aikman was the first overall pick in the 1989 draft and the Dallas franchise's first pick under owner Jerry Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson.

Aikman was the team's franchise player before the term became a common expression for an uncommon player.

America's fans loved or hated Aikman, just as they did the Cowboys. Now, they won't have Aikman to kick around anymore.

Some team will probably pick up Aikman, who still has some mileage left in his golden arm. Not that he needs to prove anything else or add to his NFL resume for Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration.

Aikman, one of the highest paid players in the NFL, felt he was a victim of the salary cap. But he indicated that he'd still like to play, if the opportunity arises.

The team had to waive Aikman or else pay him a $7 million bonus and extend his contract through 2007.

It was apparently too costly for owner Jones, who realized it was too steep a price to pay for a quarterback who suffered 10 concussions, including two last season, over a 12-year span.

Only 34, Aikman still is far from ready to hang it up and could be valuable in a back-up role. And back-up quarterbacks are a necessity in the NFL if the price is right.

It's a risk worth taking for some team. Again, if the price is right or Aikman is willing to play for less money.

WOULDN'T it be something if he hooks up with the San Diego Chargers? They just hired Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator.

They worked together when the Cowboys won the NFL championship by beating the Buffalo Bills -- who didn't? -- in Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

It was the first of three Super Bowls that I saw Aikman quarterback the Cowboys to victory. They beat the Bills again in Super Bowl XXVIII and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX in Phoenix to win an unprecedented three times in four years.

Doing a sidebar on Tuinei was a great, all-expenses-paid excuse for being there. And having a chance to see the big guy later flash his three championship rings brought more joy to this Cowboys fan, who's now lamenting Aikman's ride into the sunset.

Aikman will be honored one day by the Cowboys, joining the 10 now in their "Ring of Honor." But Dallas fans won't forget No. 8.

When Emmitt finally hangs it up, that'll really be it for me as a Cowboys fan. Then, as former Dallas Dandy, Don Meredith, once crooned, "Turn out the lights, the party's over."

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.
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