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Quick Study

If his insurance forms are any indication, Troy Aikman appears
committed to his new profession. "I was filling one out the other
day that asked for my occupation," Aikman says. "It was the first
time I ever wrote down broadcaster--and I didn't think twice about

At 34, Aikman, who retired in April after 12 seasons as the
Cowboys' quarterback and three Super Bowl rings, is a rookie
again. He's an analyst for Fox's No. 2 NFL broadcast team,
alongside play-by-play man Dick Stockton and former Dallas
backfieldmate Daryl Johnston. Aikman considers himself a work in
progress, grading himself "average" after six regular-season
broadcasts. That assessment is a bit harsh. While still
unpolished, Aikman is bright; he offers interesting insights,
especially into quarterback play (on Sunday, before Fox's pregame
show, he conducted an informative interview with St. Louis
quarterback Kurt Warner); and, best of all, he hasn't hesitated
to be critical. During the Oct. 14 Buccaneers-Titans game, after
a graphic revealed how Tampa Bay's total offense had long ranked
in the NFL's netherworld, Aikman observed, "[Bucs coach] Tony
[Dungy] says he likes the way they play offense. They play not to
make mistakes, not to lose ball games. In essence what he's
saying is that he likes an offense that ranks in the bottom third
of the league."

Oddly enough, Aikman is doing more film work as a television
analyst than he did as a quarterback. "Back then I only watched
the defense, in particular the secondary and linebackers," he
says. "Now I'm watching not only the defense but also the offense
for both teams."

Aikman's loyalties--new job and old team--will conflict on Nov. 4,
when he'll call his first Dallas TV game, against the Giants. Two
weeks later he'll be at Texas Stadium to do Cowboys-Eagles.
"People who think we're going to be pro-Dallas--they're probably
going to feel that whether it's accurate or not," he says of
himself and Johnston. "But I do believe D.J. and I will handle
those games as we would any other game."

Earlier in the season Aikman left the door slightly open for a
return to quarterbacking. That's no longer the case. "My gut tells
me no," he says, when asked if he'll play next season. "I'm
approaching broadcasting for the long haul. As far as [missing]
the playing part of it, that hasn't been as difficult a
transition as I'd anticipated. The difficult thing is that I feel
like a rookie all over again."


Troy Aikman is doing more film work as a Fox analyst than he did
as a quarterback.