Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman almost left the NFL on FOX broadcast booth to come out of retirement and help the Miami Dolphins.
According to Aikman's agent, Leigh Steinberg, who wrote for USA TODAY Sports' Touchdown Wire about the dynamics of Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the three-time Super Bowl champion was weighing the decision to leave play-by-play Joe Buck and color commentator partner Cris Collinsworth on FOX's A-team to help out former offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
The Dolphins were 5-1, but starting quarterback Jay Fielder broke his thumb in a Week 6 win over the Denver Broncos. Turner, who was offensive coordinator under coach Dave Wannstedt – the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys during their first Super Bowl run with Aikman – called with an offer.
"Troy had financial security, a great family and a prestigious second career, but he still agonized over the opportunity," Steinberg wrote. "He firmly believed he could still play. We discussed it. In the end, Troy decided it was necessary to put the same passion and commitment into his broadcast career that he had put in football."
Fiedler would not start the next six games for Miami as the Dolphins turned to backup Ray Lucas to steady the ship, going 2-4 in the process. Ultimately, the Dolphins would miss the playoffs with a 9-7 record, including losing Week 17's win-and-get-in game to the New England Patriots, 27-24 in overtime.
However, that wasn't the only offer Aikman got to come out of retirement in 2002. After quarterback Donovan McNabb broke his ankle in a Week 11 win over the Arizona Cardinals, coach Andy Reid called the NFL on FOX broadcast booth at Qualcomm Stadium where Aikman was analyzing the contest between the San Francisco 49ers versus the San Diego Chargers.
Aikman's producer gave him a number to call at halftime.
"I said, 'Well who is it?' He said, 'Well it's Andy Reid.' I said, 'Oh man.' He said, 'He says he wants you to call him at halftime.' I said, 'Well we're doing a game.' He said, 'No, he wants you to call him,'" Aikman said on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio via the Dallas Morning News.
Aikman went out on the concourse at Qualcomm Stadium and talked to Reid, who was watching the game, and told him he would call him after the game.
Interestingly, according to Aikman, one of the people he consulted about making a comeback was Turner. Ultimately, Aikman chose broadcasting once and for all. "I called Andy and I said, 'Hey, I'm honored that you've called me, but I'm going to stay put,'" said Aikman.
The Eagles fared well without the Super Bowl XXVII MVP's help, finishing 12-4 when backups A.J. Feeley and Koy Detmer combined to compile a 5-1 record to help lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
It goes to show that some coaches would prefer to go with a retired broadcaster they know than their own backup quarterbacks.
Are you happy that Troy Aikman never suited up for a team that wasn’t the Dallas Cowboys or would you have liked to see him play again? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.