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Troy Aikman Is Now a College Graduate

Jun 15, 2009 – 10:16 AM
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Mark Hasty

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OK, so maybe your cousin who's on the 12-year undergraduate plan isn't such a slacker after all. Former UCLA and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman finally graduated from UCLA on Saturday, more than two decades after he left for the NFL.

Aikman is already a member of the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame. Though he is a native Californian, Aikman attended high school in Oklahoma and started out playing for Barry Switzer's Oklahoma Sooners. Aikman proved to be ill-suited for Switzer's run-oriented offense, however, and Switzer helped Aikman transfer to UCLA after he lost his starting job to Jamelle Holieway. At UCLA, Aikman won the 1988 Davey O'Brien Award.

Tom Landry, whose Dallas Cowboys held the first pick in the 1989 NFL draft, thought Aikman was just the quarterback he needed to bring the glory days back to Dallas. There was, of course, just one little problem with Landry's plan.

That problem was Jerry Jones, new owner of the Cowboys, who ran off Landry, brought in Jimmy Johnson from the University of Miami, and drafted Aikman anyway. Aikman had to compete with Johnson's former quarterback, Steve Walsh, but won the starting job. He would go on to win three Super Bowls and be named to six Pro Bowls before a string of concussions ended his career.

Lots of athletes justify a decision to leave early by noting that they can always go back to school later, after their careers are over. Many more don't decide to leave early but don't finish their degrees because their scholarships have run out. Aikman deserves credit for going back and getting his degree. Maybe he'll inspire some other athletes to do the same.

Of course, there's one more little problem. Aikman's degree is in sociology. Didn't anybody tell him he'll never find a job with that degree?
Filed under: Sports