The Dallas Cowboys won the 1994 NFC Championship, beating the San Francisco 49ers, 38-21, despite losing Troy Aikman to a concussion in the third quarter.
Aikman has no recollection of that game.
“Still to this day, I have complete amnesia from having played that game,” Aikman said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I spent the night in the hospital, there was not the bye week between the championship game and the Super Bowl that year, and I played the following week in a Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills. Obviously in today’s game, that wouldn’t happen. You’d be sitting out. So I think great strides have been made. When I retired, no one even really knew what potentially the long-term effects of concussions were. There’s been a lot of progress made in that regard.”
Aikman believes the NFL has “done just about all they can do” to make the game safer. Still, football is very much at a crossroads.
“There’s parents out there trying to make decisions as to whether or not they’re going to let their kids play,” Aikman said. “We talk about what the Super Bowl looks like 20 years ago as compared to today; what is our sport going to look like 20 years from now? I’m as interested in it as anybody. Football’s been a great game to me. Even though people do talk about the head injuries that I suffered, I feel like I was one of the lucky ones who got out healthy. And still to this day, 15 years removed from playing my last game, I’m still as healthy as I can possibly be. So hopefully that will continue for me and for many others that are in the same state.”
Warren Moon, 59, suffered a half dozen or so concussions during his playing days and says he often worries about his long-term health. Aikman, 49, hasn’t quite reached that point.
“It would be naive of me to say it’s not anything that I don’t ever think about,” he said. “But because I don’t have any of those symptoms, it’s just really not on my mind all that much. I have former teammates and former players that I played against that are in a much different state, and they’re experiencing different things. So hopefully we can continue to make strides and the league can continue to improve the safety of the game, hopefully with the equipment, the improvement of the helmets, whatever it may be. But I just don’t think we’re ever going to eliminate certainly the injuries, much less the head injuries.”