6. Troy Aikman
Many people don’t realize this but the quarterback that led the Dallas Cowboys dynasty in the mid-1990s to three Super Bowls actually retired earlier than he wanted to. Troy Aikman was one of the best quarterbacks in Dallas Cowboys history. Someone that Tony Romo strives to play like down the stretch and the Cowboys organization called their golden boy back in his hay-day.
Aikman threw for over 32,000 yards and 165 touchdowns in his phenomenal 11 year career with the Cowboys. He won one Super Bowl MVP, had six pro bowl appearances, and was recently inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame. So what was really missing from this amazing career from one of Dallas’ most notable players?
Most people believe that Aikman retired after the 2000 season because of his history of concussions. But this is hardly the reason according to Aikman himself.
"“I then, nor now, have ever experienced anything that had to deal with the concussions,” Aikman said. “I had surgery back when I was 26. I was young when I had my first back surgery following our first Super Bowl victory and didn’t miss any time for it. Then, going into my last year, I was having some back issues. I took epidural shots… and I remember on the day of the game, waking up, and I’d never felt better for a game in my life. My back felt pain free for the first time in years.”"
Aikman would go on to explain that he got hit in the first quarter and his back immediately seized up not allowing him to finish the game. He continued trying to take the shots but always had pain after. This, Aikman explained, was the reason for his early retirement.
Had the star quarterback not retired, we could all be sitting here arguing whether or not Aikman deserves to be in the same category as John Montana, Dan Marino, and John Elway. But his legacy will forever be crippled by this early departure from the NFL.
Next: 5. Patrick Willis