15 years after his career came to an end with three Super Bowl wins in as many appearances to his name, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman finds himself watching yet another golden season for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s Patriots and wondering what might have been in Dallas if Jimmy Johnson had stayed.
Aikman knows more than most, we’d guess, the difference a great head coach can make for a quarterback.
"I've said many times, there's no doubt that Bill Belichick benefits from having Tom Brady. But Tom Brady benefits by having Bill Belichick as his head coach,” Aikman told the Musers on 1310-AM The Ticket, via the Dallas Morning News. “I know what that looks like. I know what that arrangement looks like. I experienced it for five years under Jimmy Johnson. There's something to be said when all you really have to do is go out, focus on playing football and doing your job and not having to worry about anything else and knowing that a head coach is going to handle it all. Bill Belichick, fortunately for Tom, doesn't want to do anything other than coach. That's good, because he's really good at it.”
According to Aikman, it’s not at all uncommon for the players on those early 90s teams to wonder now how the franchise’s fortunes might have changed had Johnson not split from Jerry Jones and Cowboys in a bitter and sudden divorce just after their second Super Bowl win.
“I think there's a tendency—we all do, all those former players that played under Jimmy, we look back and say, 'Wow. What would it have been like if Jimmy had stayed around?' I find myself, it seems like every time around this type of year when the Patriots are playing in another AFC Championship game thinking, 'Man I wish Jimmy didn't have any other interests other than football back when he was coaching, didn't want to fish and get out on a boat and go out to the Keys,' because he was essentially, at that time, he was Bill Belichick. But unfortunately for us and other Cowboys fans, he's got other interests."