Sometimes old-school rivalries have boundaries. And sometimes — like when one team is chasing a Super Bowl — there are none.
Troy Aikman recently revealed to the Los Angeles Times that he had three legitimate offers to return to the NFL upon announcing his retirement in 2001. The Hall-of-Fame quarterback received interest from the San Diego Chargers, the Miami Dolphins and one more — the Philadelphia Eagles.
Shocking, right? Maybe not.
The year was 2002 and Donovan McNabb had just suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 11. The starting quarterback was out for the first-place Eagles, a team destined for a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
According to Sam Farmer, Aikman was sitting in the FOX broadcast booth when someone handed him an urgent message. It said: call Andy Reid at halftime.
Said Aikman: I told him I’d call him after the game, and we had a lot of time to talk because I was driving up to my home in Santa Barbara. I told Andy I’d like to sleep on it and that I’d call him the next day. So I went to bed that night and said, “I can wake up tomorrow and spend a nice couple of days in Santa Barbara. Or, I can be in frigid Philadelphia getting my brains kicked in.”
Of course, the fates never aligned. Aikman politely asked Reid if he could sleep on it and eventually decided he preferred California’s warm weather over Philadelphia’s frigid winters.
The former Cowboys signal-caller stay retired, never to risk another injury or concussion — or the possible conundrum of having to put on a midnight green jersey.
Meanwhile, McNabb rehabbed his ankle and came back in time for the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Eagles lost the NFC Championship Game in 2002 to the Carolina Panthers.
Aikman Once Called Philly Toughest City to Play
There’s no denying the greatness of Troy Aikman. The Cowboys quarterback guided the franchise to three Super Bowl titles while dominating the NFC East for nearly a decade.
It’s funny that Aikman once considered playing for Andy Reid’s Eagles because Philadelphia was the one city he hated playing in. Aikman admitted the factoid last year during a TV broadcast.
The numbers back it up, too. Aikman posted a pedestrian 10-11 record in 21 games played in Philadelphia, along with a ragged 63.7 QB rating. He threw 15 touchdowns against 19 interceptions, including a brutal send-off in 2000 when he was sacked four times and left the game with a concussion.
Aikman also watched in horror as his top target, Michael Irvin, saw his career end at old Veterans Stadium. Did Eagles fans boo an injured Irvin as he was carted off the field? Yes, yes they did. That’s how the Philly faithful handles long-standing rivalries.
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