TROY-FECTA: Troy Aikman As The Ultimate Sportsman, Businessman & Family Man

TROY-FECTA: TROY AIKMAN AS THE ULTIMATE SPORTSMAN, BUSINESSMAN AND FAMILY MAN

Story by: Deyvanshi Masrani
Photography by: Steven Visneau
Styling by: Holly Quartaro
Grooming by: Walter Fuentes
Shot onsite at Troy’s at Texas Live! and AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX

One of the most celebrated NFL quarterbacks of all time—Troy Aikman—has one of those names in football history that immediately instills a sense of excitement and respect at the same time. Granted, his track record—or, dare I say, “field record,”—is obviously impressive, with three Super Bowl appearances—all resulting in victories—under his belt, a Super Bowl MVP title, six Pro Bowls and with 90 game wins during the span of 1990-1999, he was recognized as the quarterback with the most amount of wins of any decade in NFL history, at the time of his retirement. So, you’d think that across the board, referring to him as a “legend” would be another title he’s used to by now. “Legend?” He asks. “I guess probably in a word, I’d have to say it makes me feel ‘uncomfortable.’ I mean, I’m very proud of what I was able to accomplish as a player, but more importantly, what our teams were able to accomplish.” Taking the humble route is expected; of course, I didn’t necessarily expect him to full-on agree that he deserves to be called a “legend”. But there was a real sense of authenticity in his voice. “I’m honored,” he emphasized, “but uncomfortable.”  

troy aikman
T-SHIRT & LEATHER JACKET: Brunello Cucinelli from Neiman Marcus Northpark

Photo Credit: Steve Visneau

Though I could sense a slight hesitation from him in speaking about his playing past, I couldn’t help but touch on it, at least a little. But the more we spoke, the more I realized the meaningful conversation laid not so much within his decorated 12 seasons on the field as a Dallas Cowboy; rather, it was in how his 12 seasons of experience on the field as a Dallas Cowboy led him to where he is today: off the field, but still pretty close to it. 

Troy Aikman today is a triple-threat: he’s a savvy business man, an accomplished sportsman and most importantly, a family man. As a proud and doting father of two young girls—Jordan and Alexa, or “Ally,” as she refers to herself—and stepfather to two boys with his wife of almost three years, Catherine, or “Capa,” it becomes abundantly clear that the latter of the three men, is of the utmost importance to Troy. “At my core, the most important part of me is Troy Aikman, the father,” he declares. “I got remarried a couple of years ago and prior to that, I was a single father for a number of years. That’s why the broadcasting with FOX [Sports] was so good for me, because it afforded me an opportunity to be there for my girls and only be gone during the football season.” 

 

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Happy National Daughters Day❤️

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Troy joined the NFL on FOX’s “A-Team” alongside Joe Buck and Erin Andrews prior to the 2002 season. Analyzing games with an incredibly insightful eye, coupled with his highly articulate way of communicating—both to viewers and to colleagues—he has been recognized as one of the best on television through continued Emmy Award nominations from the early 2000s onwards. Regardless of the fact that he is often targeted for his unapologetic and uncensored critiques, no matter what side of the spectrum an audience member lies, it is undisputed across the board that he is undeniably authentic. “Look, I know that my style isn’t for everybody,” he begins. “There’s a reason why there’s Baskin Robbins with 31 flavors: everyone likes something different. I’m just trying to stay in my lane and do what I do best. I’m not trying to be anyone else.” 

He continues, “I think there was a time in the [broadcasting] business that because of the success of [former football coach and sportscaster] John Madden, everyone tried to be him and have his personality and persona and inflections and mannerisms. I don’t think that works [in this field], or in life. I just try to be as honest as I can…and keep it as simple as possible, where everyone understands it without dumbing it down.” 

troy aikman
SUIT & TIE: Troy’s own                                                                        TIMEPIECE: Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Titanium Blue

Photo Credit: Steve Visneau

Transitioning to on-air broadcasting is an obvious and natural progression for former NFL players—or at least the selected smart ones like Tony Romo, Michael Strahan and Randy Moss, among others, who successfully leveraged their playing platforms into broadcasting ones, remaining relevant within the sport despite having retired from playing it. There is, of course, a whole slew of retired NFL players that obviously have an elevated understanding of the game, having played it at the highest level for several years. However, most of them are not presented with the opportunity to make the player-turned-analyst transition. When it comes to the discerning quality that Troy has over his colleagues, he attributes the level of success he has enjoyed over his 19-year broadcasting career to his ability to strive for continued progress through self-awareness. “I’m constantly just trying to improve myself,” he says, without hesitation. “What I learned very early in my [playing] career was that I needed to go back and watch the games to critique with a really critical ear, my own performance. So, I [would] go back and listen to the games to try to figure out for myself, ‘Did that work?’ ‘Why did that work?’ ‘Did that sequence work?’ ‘What did I not like about that?’ I take that mentality into every role in life, including broadcasting, as well.” 

fox sports joe buck troy aikmanPhoto Credit: FOX Sports

That mentality of constant improvement is surely one of the reasons that Troy was able to lead his Dallas Cowboys team to three Super Bowl appearances and victories—XXVII, XXVIII and XXX—two of which he won under Coach Jimmy Johnson, who was just elected into the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame—the highest acknowledgment of accomplishment in the world of professional football, which Troy also received in 2006. In addition, Troy deservedly earned the Super Bowl MVP honor after his impressive performance at his first Super Bowl appearance in 1992. Defeating the Buffalo Bills with a final score of 52-17, he completed 22 of 30 passes for a total of 273 yards and four touchdowns and rushed three times for 28 yards. And that’s just one of the impressive game examples he holds to his name. But being the humble guy that he is, he regresses. “The one and biggest [difference now] is that I don’t throw interceptions anymore,” he jokes. “I think when I retired, a lot of people forgot—Cowboys fans did anyway—that I ever threw an interception. Now I do throw interceptions from time to time in broadcasting; I’m far from perfect. But when you walk away from the game, any frustrations you had as a player, those are all forgotten, and you only remember the good times.” He continues, “I think that broadcasting, for lack of a better way of saying it, has kept me relevant and in the public eye. It’s kept me out there in a way that people tend to remember my playing career more than I otherwise would, since I am out there weekly in front of the public. It’s allowed me to still get involved with other companies and do things I probably wouldn’t [have otherwise] been asked to do.” 

 

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Best of luck to the four remaining contenders! #championshipweekend

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I quickly learn in our conversation that this “humble guy” bit isn’t an act; Troy seems as genuine as they come, both in his opinions of the game and of himself. But the types of business endeavors and partnerships he has established over the years as somewhat of a serial entrepreneur would suggest that he has more to credit to his off-the-field successes than just his ability to remain in the public eye; rather, it likely has much less to do with that and much more to do with his savvy business acumen. 

His business portfolio is vastly wide-ranging, having part-owned a baseball team—the San Diego Padres—a NASCAR team—Hall of Fame Racing—and even dabbled in the food industry, with Fog City Diner and Dallas-based Wingstop in 2001, which began with a spokesperson contract and later evolved into him becoming an investor in the company, followed by a board member. Eventually, Wingstop went public, which ended up being a very lucrative partnership for the Hall of Famer. 

Though he’s continued within the food industry by way of his latest venture, a dining outpost called Troy’s at Cordish Group’s Texas Live! in Dallas, offering live music, gourmet food and delicious cocktails in an upbeat atmosphere, Troy doesn’t discriminate or play favorites when it comes to his business decisions. He analyzes each presented opportunity with the same awareness and focus he did with the games he called on the field as a Cowboy, and now those games he calls off the field from the broadcasting booth. He may make it look easy, but he assures me, it is not. “In football, there’s a contest every week and every week you know if what you did for the previous six days was enough. There’s an immediate awareness and feedback,” he insightfully shares. “In business, the results don’t always happen as quickly, which can be frustrating. But I’ve always believed that in business, if you have good people who work toward the common team and goal, then you’ll have success. Like in football.” 

troy aikman
SHIRT: Tom Ford                                                                                                                                                       JEANS: Joe’s Jeans                                                                                                                                                       TIMEPIECE: Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Titanium Racing Grey

Photo Credit: Steve Visneau

It’s apparent that his ability to draw parallels and learn lessons from his time wearing the No. 8 jersey on the Dallas Cowboys team to contribute to his overall betterment and growth has been a key determining factor in his continued success today. “How I’ve changed [is that] I’ve just gotten a better sense of what’s important to me,” he says confidently. “My daughters, my wife, my two stepsons; those are the things that matter most to me. The rest of it is just kind of window dressing.” 

Spending years as a single father of two young girls was surely no easy feat for Troy; but despite that, he maintains that his girls could not have turned out to be any greater than they did; the love and connection between Troy and his girls are palpable. In a sweet Father’s Day tribute last year posted to the Instagram account of a now 18-year-old Ally, she refers to her father as “the best,” and in response Troy calls his daughters his “everything” (with a heart emoji). “When I’m lying there towards the end of my time on earth, if [my girls] say, ‘He was a great dad,’ then none of the other stuff really matters to me,” he says with, for the first time in our conversation, just the slightest hint of emotion in his voice. “I spent my whole childhood living out my dreams, but what really matters to me is my girls saying that I was a great dad to them. That would be enough for me. I wouldn’t need anything else.” 

When he says, “I wouldn’t need anything else,” he pauses, and so do I. Anything else…what else could there possibly be? A wildly accomplished career as an NFL great; a diversified business portfolio of successful venture after successful venture; an almost two decade-long (and counting) run as a leading on-air broadcaster with one of the biggest television networks in the country; and, above all, the love and support from a beautiful family…it seems like Troy Aikman has ticked all the boxes on this form called life, right? 

“I’ve always kind of felt that there’s something else for me to do,” he reveals. “I say that knowing that the job I currently have is fantastic—I’d hate for my bosses to read this thinking that I’m looking to leave or that I’m unhappy, because that’s not the case. But I kind of do feel though that there’s something else. And maybe there’s not too, and I wouldn’t be disappointed in that…but even when I was playing, I thought the front office [coaching] would be of interest to me. At the time, I couldn’t do it because of the girls and the commitment—there’s not much family during the season if you’re fully invested in the job, and me being a single dad, there was no way I could do it. But where I’m at right now in life is the first time where that opportunity would be of interest to me, and I’d pursue it if it happened…and if that opportunity didn’t happen, I think there’ll always be that part of me that will wonder how I could’ve done.”

troy aikman
SUIT & TIE: Troy’s own                                                                                                                                     TIMEPIECE: Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Titanium Blue

Photo Credit: Steve Visneau 

During our lengthy and engaging conversation, I felt like my understanding of Troy had developed enough for me to safely conclude that he doesn’t seem like a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” type of guy. But, as our chat came to an end, I was curious to learn how such an accomplished individual on so many levels and in so many different aspects of both his personal and professional life, would want to be remembered, in terms of his legacy. “Professionally, I just want the guys that I played with to remember me as a great teammate; that they respected me as a competitor,” he states. “I don’t have gaudy stats, and some people ask, ‘How did he really contribute?’ But I know who I played with, the teammates and coaches, and it’s their respect that matters to me. But when it’s all said and done, whether it’s my daughters, my wife, my sisters or my friends, they’re the ones who know me best. They’re the ones who really tell my story.” And something tells me that story is about to get a lot more interesting. 

Be sure to catch Troy alongside Joe Buck, who will both be calling this upcoming Super Bowl LIV in Miami, FL, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. 

troy aikman coverPhoto Credit: Steve Visneau

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