Emcee Spencer Tillman and Troy Aikman at River Oaks Country Club.
Tory Aikman shares a moment with PaperCity's Shelby Hodge.
Emcee Spencer Tillman talks with Troy Aikman at River Oaks Country Club.
Though Troy Aikman was congenially reserved through the dinner hour at Tuesday night’s Touchdown for Teach benefit, as soon as the NFL Hall of Famer took the stage at River Oaks Country Club he assumed his fully-loaded quarterback persona.
Questions gently tossed from former NFL running back and sports analyst Spencer Tillman led Aikman down a path of remembrance. He recalled moving from Southern California to Henryetta, Oklahoma, when he was 12 years old — a move that still has him wondering what his family was thinking. That meant a change from riding his bicycle around the suburban California neighborhood to feeding cows and chickens, bailing hay, and fully embracing a Friday Night Lights culture.
“I excelled at typing. Is that funny for me to say,” Aikman deadpanned. It was an easy elective, which he admits payed off in today’s computer age. When he signed up for Typing 2, it was “because all the good looking girls were in that class.”
Hard-core fans will recall that after high school graduation, the longtime Dallas Cowboy was about to sign with Oklahoma State, and made a last-minute change to the University of Oklahoma, where for two years he played along side Tillman, a Tulsa native, before transferring to UCLA. Then it was on to the Dallas Cowboys and the rest is history.
“When I look back on my career and when I encapsulate my career, I look at that 1 and 15 record (his first and Dallas’ worst season) and then four years later the championship . . . to this day it’s what I think of when I think of my career — those guys,” Aikman said.
“That’s what sports has meant to me. That’s what sports has given me . . . I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of three Super Bowl rings but it’s the relationships, this bond (with the other players) that is the most important.”
And that is not to mention the playful side of it all. “The locker room is the greatest fun ever,” he added.
After the locker room, there was the broadcast booth where Aikman has manned NFL coverage for FOX since 2002, a stint that earned him three Emmy nominations. When he returns to Houston from his home base in Dallas in February, Aikman will be in the booth for Super Bowl LI, his fourth Super Bowl from on high as opposed to on the field.
“I don’t know what I would be doing if I wasn’t in broadcasting,” he told the sellout crowd. Actually, Aikman is a busy man not only with broadcasting but also real estate and the Troy Aikman Foundation.
Aikman’s most salient observation of the conversation: “A reason to have hope is the greatest gift that you can give anybody.”