Snap Decision

Should Troy Aikman retire? Should he remain the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys? The answer to both questions is no.

Dear Troy,

Has this season been a nightmare or what? You may have been too loopy to notice, distracted by the ring of canaries circling your head, distracted by the ring of canaries circling your head, distracted by … but the Cowboys are in a vicious freefall. Hopes were high in training camp because of new head coach Dave Campo and the addition of wide receiver Joey Galloway, but it was impossible not to see the first game of the season as a harbinger of the Cowboys’ demise. The Philadelphia Eagles blew you out at home 41-14, and that wasn’t the worst of it. The Cowboys’ run defense crumbled, Galloway suffered a season-ending injury, and you were handed the ninth concussion of your career, which knocked you out for the next two weeks. The rest of the year has consisted of a smattering of hollow victories over mediocre teams and a long list of bruising losses to better ones. On top of all this has been the recurring debate: Should you continue to play?

Every football pundit and fan, not to mention anyone with a medical degree, is telling you to retire. They believe this because they care: At the age of 34, you simply can’t take too many more shots to the head. But are you able to walk away? Your fighting spirit will be reluctant to bow out on a losing team. Not to mention that you can still play (24 completions for 308 yards and one touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals, though kicker Tim Seder had to score seventeen points to save the day). Great quarterbacks are great decision makers, and this is the biggest call of your life. The answer is, Don’t retire, Troy. But don’t be the starting quarterback either. Be the highest-paid backup in the league. It’s the only way you can continue to help the team and avoid brain damage.

Priority one is your health. Your medical history is as fat as a Stephen King novel and gets similarly gruesome toward the end: a broken clavicle and three of your nine concussions in the past two years. (A list of your career injuries, mapped out conveniently on your anatomy, can be found at if you’ve lost track.) This year you also missed a game because of a herniated disc. That’s not going to get better without some rest and relaxation. Seek the healing waters at Lourdes. Study yoga in India. But don’t, for goodness sake, play until that’s healed.

The concussions, though, are my main concern. They made Roger Staubach hang it up, a fact you must be all too aware of. How many more

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