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Troy Aikman says it is hard for Cowboys 'to keep an edge'

Aikman has experienced the Dallas Cowboys from every angle, so he knows that it’s difficult to keep a competitive edge when you play with the star on your helmet.
Credit: AP
Troy Airman, right, talks to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott during pre-game warmups before an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

DALLAS — When the Dallas Cowboys were winning in the 1990s under coach Jimmy Johnson, there was fear of being sent to the asthma field or cut for poor performance (e.g. Curvin Richards, Week 17, 1992).

The Cowboys were also a has-been franchise that hadn't won a playoff game since 1982, a strike year. Owner Jerry Jones only had the opportunity to purchase the team from H.R. "Bum" Bright in 1989 due to the financial hardships that had fallen on the team.

"I know that when I was playing with Jimmy, Jimmy — I don’t know that we felt like we accomplished anything to be quite honest," Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman told "The Musers" on Wednesday on 1310 "The Ticket" [KTCK-AM]. "I mean, the more we won, the tougher he got. There’s something to be said for that.”

According to Aikman, who played for Dallas from 1989-2000 and won three Super Bowls along the way, the Cowboys have a difficult time processing their lack of postseason success as the team still generates considerable media attention and practices in state of the art facilities.

"It’s an organization that it’s hard, I think, in order for them to keep an edge, and I think that’s important," Aikman said. "Because the facility that they practice at is amazing. It’s the nicest in the NFL. There’s tours that come through constantly. I mean, you’re constantly reminded that you’re a Dallas Cowboy and you’re really popular. And you lead every sportscast. At the top of the show, they’re talking about the Cowboys whether the team is good or not good. Whether it’s ESPN or NFL Network or all those Sunday morning shows, there’s a segment every week usually at the top that talks about the Cowboys.

"And, so, they know it’s America’s Team. The players are the most popular. They’re selling the most jerseys for the most part because of all the attention that they get. So, trying to pull that in and give a team an edge and say, ‘Hey, we are the underdogs.’"

The Cowboys certainly looked like underdogs against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 16 in the NFC wild-card at AT&T Stadium. Despite going 12-5 and winning the NFC East, Dallas never led the 49ers, who had to win their last game of the season at 10-7 to qualify for the playoffs. 

Quarterback Dak Prescott completed 23 passes on 43 attempts for 254 yards, a touchdown, an interception, took five sacks, and posted a 69.3 passer rating.

Aikman doesn't believe Jones is content to rest on the laurels of the championships early in his ownership.

"There’s no question that Jerry desperately wants to win a Super Bowl. I get a chance to see all the teams and this Cowboys team is really talented, I mean really talented. And I know you can poke holes in certain things, but when you look at them stacked up against the other teams in the field, they talentwise can play with anybody. And as far as their ability and what we’ve seen from them at various times this year, we know when they’re playing their best, they can beat anybody in the league," said Aikman. 

Until the Cowboys can find their edge, it will be difficult for Dallas to slice through the NFC and qualify for their first conference title game appearance since 1996.

What would you change with the Cowboys to develop a competitive edge? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.