Ken Stabler sued the NFL over brain injuries. So did Jim McMahon. But Troy Aikman, a posterchild for enduring concussions during his halcyon days in the 1990s, refrained from joining the litigation joined by more than 4,000 fellow former players.
“I didn’t get involved in that because I just felt the lawsuit essentially implies that the doctors knew something and they didn’t tell you,” Aikman told the Dallas Morning News. “I never felt, at any time, while I was playing for the Cowboys that the doctors didn’t have my best interests in mind. I didn’t feel that I went out on the field before I should have. I thought they were very careful with me and cautious.”
The candid remarks come on the same day that fellow NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino withdrew from a new brain-injury lawsuit against the league. Three of Marino’s fourteen fellow plaintiffs, including a kicker, never made their way into an official NFL game.
Aikman told the Cowboys’ hometown paper that he endured seven or eight concussions during his career. Leigh Steinberg, the agent who inspired the “Jerry Maguire” character, memorably recalled Aikman’s memory lapse in the wake of a concussion during the 1994 NFC championship game in the League of Denial documentary:
He looked at me and he said, ‘Leigh, where am I?’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re in the hospital.’ And he said, ‘Well, why am I here?’ And I said, ‘because you suffered a concussion today.’ And he said, ‘Well, who did we play?’ And I said, ‘The 49ers.’ And he said, ‘Did we win?’ ‘Yes, you won.’ ‘Did I play well?’ ‘Yes, you played well.’ ‘And so what’s that mean?’ ‘It means you’re going to the Super Bowl.’
A confused Aikman repeated the line of inquiry, and then repeated it again. Nevertheless, Jerry Maguire’s client refuses to shout “Show me the money!” The three-time Super Bowl-winner told the paper, “I never felt I was being exposed to any long-term injury because of negligence on the doctor’s and the training staff’s part. For that reason, and that reason alone, is why I haven’t joined that lawsuit.”