20 Years Since Course Of History Changed

until Sunday, April 23, 1989, when Aikman became the Cowboys' second No. 1 pick in NFL draft history, 15 years after Ed "Too Tall" Jones initially was bestowed that privilege, and only the second quarterback in Cowboys history to be selected with a first-round pick, Craig Morton the first in 1965. (That is, until the Cowboys used what would have been the first pick in the 1990 draft to also grab Jimmy Johnson's former University of Miami quarterback, Steve Walsh, in that summer's NFL supplemental draft.) 

  Just another of many indications back then nothing around here sits still for long. 

  By the time those three days had been completed a new name in the new operation had surfaced, that of Jones' oil and gas business buddy Mike McCoy, whose cunning and creative negotiating skills matched those of Aikman's agent Leigh Steinberg and then months later would convince Minnesota that trading for Herschel Walker in exchange for a combination of Vikings veteran players and umpteen draft choices was the right thing to do. 

  McCoy, you see, had never negotiated a NFL player contract until then, and here he was, the lead man in the team's negotiations with the top pick in the draft, and having to butt heads with Steinberg, who at the time was the agent in the country. 

  His reaction to getting Aikman inked three days prior to that Sunday's draft was what we'd soon learn to be typical, understated and never-intimidated McCoy, a nine-year partner of Jones at the time: "But let's just say I've done some deals with Jerry that have a few more zeroes involved." 

  Touché NFL. 

  The NFL establishment, though, was slow to warm to Jones and the idea that the Cowboys no longer were in the hands of Schramm and Landry and Brandt. Believe me, no one back then ever gave Jones a break or the benefit of the doubt, even if he had hired a national championship-winning head coach from college in Jimmy Johnson.  Why get this, and Jones will never forget what ESPN analyst - and to his detriment long-time Cowboys hater because of his association at quarterback with the Washington Redskins - Joe Theismann actually said on the air of the Cowboys selecting Aikman with the top pick in the draft: 

  "They're taking Aikman to sell tickets. Cowboys fans are a spoiled, fickle bunch. But Aikman's not an impact player like Randy White or Tony Dorsett." 

  Twenty years later, say it ain't so, Joe, whose loose lips should serve as a cautionary tale for all those spouting off opinions and spitting out grades on who drafts who come next Saturday. 

  Also take with a grain of sea salt what ESPN analyst Mel Kiper had to say, because he, too, joined forces with Theismann in bashing the Cowboys - or was it Jones? - for selecting Aikman. Because, really, has anyone ever made a bigger mistake on draft day than saying NFC East rivals "hoped the Cowboys would take Aikman. If they took Tony Mandarich he'd give Dallas a virtual 300-pound line for Herschel Walker to run behind." 

  Oops, and certainly you guys know the rest of that story, since the Green Bay Packers with the second pick took what turned out to be the roided-up Mandarich, the offensive tackle from Michigan State, and get this, instead of the likes of, in draft order, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders or even such guys later in the first round as Burt Grossman, Donnell Woolford, Eric Metcalf, Steve Atwater or Andre Rison. 

  Another lesson that could have been learned about bashing for bashing sake. 

  How sobering though it is when looking back just 20 years to see how one decision changed the course of not only Cowboys history, but truly NFL history. I mean, what if the Cowboys had stepped to the so-called experts' tune, selecting Mandarich instead of Aikman and continued their ongoing tail-chase for a quarterback once it had become obvious Danny White's once-cracked wrist would never allow him to return to his previous high level of play. Because believe me, even though the Cowboys did use that supplemental draft choice on Walsh a few months later, Steve Walsh was no Troy Aikman. 

  Without Aikman, would Michael Irvin ever have produced a Pro Football Hall of Fame

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