Aikman expects to be more candid as commentator

Tuesday, April 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) _ Troy Aikman didn't provide the most colorful quotes in his 12 seasons as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He often seemed to be saying what he was supposed to, not what he really felt.

Aikman admitted as much Monday while discussing his new job as an NFL game analyst for Fox, a role that will enable him to say what he wants, when he wants.

``I handled myself as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in a manner I felt was necessary,'' he said in a conference call to announce the start of his second career.

``A lot of times, you're asked very sensitive questions and you're not able to always answer quite as honestly as you might like. I felt I was as honest as I could be at times during very difficult circumstances.

``As for how I will approach this, I am what I am. I'm not going into the booth feeling I've got to create some fireworks or be a negative, critical analyst. I'm going to call it as I see it and be fair to the players because I understand how difficult the game is.''

Aikman, who grew up in Henryetta, Okla., and played at the University of Oklahoma, will be joined in the broadcast booth by longtime teammate Daryl Johnston and play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton.

Johnston was with Aikman on the Cowboys from 1989-99, winning three Super Bowls together. The former fullback best known as ``Moose'' said he expects viewers to be surprised by how candid Aikman can be.

``I can speak first hand that Troy is very opinionated on some topics in the huddle or the locker room,'' Johnston said. ``But he won't express any of that if it wouldn't be for the betterment of the team.

``I've told Troy one of the best things about being retired is that you can be outspoken and say how you feel. It's a lot of fun. I think you're going to be in for a side of Troy Aikman a lot of people haven't seen.''

Aikman said the chance to begin his second career helped persuade him to retire as a quarterback after 12 seasons, three Super Bowl titles and 10 concussions.

The Cowboys released him March 7, and there were several teams he was interested in joining. When those didn't come together, he started listening to his friends at Fox, and they won him over.

``I'm excited about the newness, the freshness of the challenge,'' Aikman said. ``That was very appealing to me.''

Aikman gave broadcasting a whirl two years ago when he did NFL Europe games for Fox. He leaves Tuesday for another stint overseas.

Johnston worked NFL Europe games for Fox last year, then did games for CBS last fall.

The Aikman-Johnston-Stockton triumvirate will be Fox's No. 2 team behind Pat Summerall and John Madden.

Matt Millen was Stockton's partner last year, then left to become president of the Detroit Lions.

Fox Sports president Ed Goren said he's in no hurry for his new squad to call a Cowboys game.

``If they early on do a Dallas game, it's almost a non-win situation,'' Goren said. ``There's a tendency for the audience to hear what it wants to hear and sometimes place an agenda where there is none.

``Because of that, my tendency would be to not have them do a Cowboys game early in the season and establish their credentials as broadcasters before we went that way.''

Then Goren laughed and added, ``Dallas has to win some games for this quality team to visit Dallas.''