The Terrifying Pre-Super Bowl Concussion That Scared the Hell Out of Troy Aikman

Categories: Sports

Troy Aikman's concussion in the third quarter of the 1994 NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers is now just a footnote on the team's march to a second consecutive Super Bowl victory, which itself gets lost in telling of the mid-'90s golden age of America's Team.

Aikman's injury gets more prominent billing in League of Denial, the much-anticipated Frontline documentary probing the concussion crisis in the NFL. The film doesn't premiere until next Tuesday, but Frontline today unveiled a two-minute teaser featuring the Aikman story, as told by his agent, Leigh Steinberg.

The concussion itself was caused by a flying knee from 49ers defensive end Dennis Brown. Aikman was pulled from the game, replaced by backup Bernie Kosar and taken to a local hospital. Steinberg found him there, sitting in bed in a darkened room. The agent recalled:

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.'

Five minutes passed. Aikman again turned to Steinberg, confused, and asked, "What am I doing here?"

Here's Steinberg:

For a minute I thought he was joking, and I went through the same sequence of answers again, and his face brightened and we celebrated again. Maybe 10 minutes passed, and he looked at me with the same puzzled expression and asked the same sequence of questions. It terrified me to see how tender the bond was between sentient consciousness and potential dementia and confusion was.

The acute memory loss was temporary. Two weeks later, he led the team to a Super Bowl victory. He tacked on another two years later, and a few years later launched a successful broadcasting career. But what lasting damage did a career of hits like the one he suffered against San Francisco do to his brain? It's hard to say, at least for now.

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Aikman will never have the same amount of brain damage as Jerruh.


A little over a year ago my brother was riding his scooter over near Baylor. Now I will preface this by saying he was being a moron and not wearing a helmet. He gets hit by a car and ended up at Baylor with a concussion and a brain bleed. This article pretty much sums up the first two days he was there. Head injuries are scary shit.


I complain about Jerry as much as any Cowboy fan. but in '93 they called him crazy for paying a backup QB one million dollars(Kosar). been a long time since he had such foresight.


I believe that's the same game in which Aikman insistenly informed the trainers that they were in Henrietta, Oklahoma (his home town) at a high school game on Friday night. 

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