Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Friday, December 27, 2013
Aikman offers cautionary tale for Romo

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo turns 34 in April. Troy Aikman was 34 when he was forced to retire from the Dallas Cowboys following the 2000 season.

Tony Romo, Troy Aikman
Troy Aikman was 34 -- the same age Tony Romo will be at the start of next season -- when back issues forced him to retire.
Romo had his second surgery in eight months Friday, ending his season with one game to play. In April, Romo had a procedure to remove a cyst from his back. On Friday he had a herniated disk repaired.

The Cowboys believe Romo will be ready for the offseason program in April.

All along the Cowboys have said this injury is unrelated to the spring surgery. Still there has to be a concern, even if Jason Garrett did not bite Friday.

"This was a result of what happened in the game the other day," Garrett said. "You address the issue and you move on. He played very well coming off the first procedure he had in the spring. We are completely confident, he's going to rehab and come back to 100 percent."

The Cowboys certainly hope so. They gave Romo a $108 million extension just a few weeks before he had the surgery last April. As part of the deal, $55 million is guaranteed.

In 1993, Troy Aikman had back surgery in June and was ready in no time for the season opener. After a slow start -- see Emmitt Smith's absence -- the Cowboys won their second straight Super Bowl.

Aikman was 26 when he had his surgery.

Speaking Thursday on KTCK 1310 AM and 96.7 FM The Ticket, Aikman said the back forced him to retire.

"There are a lot of people that believe the concussions led to my retirement, but nothing could be further from the truth," Aikman said. "I then, nor now, have ever experienced anything that had to deal with the concussions. I had surgery back when I was 26. I was young when I had my first back surgery following our first Super Bowl victory and didn't miss any time for it.

"Then, going into my last year, I was having some back issues. I took epidural shots, as I understand Tony had this week, and the first time I took them was before the Jacksonville game that season in 2000, and I remember on the day of the game, waking up, and I'd never felt better for a game in my life. My back felt pain free for the first time in years. And in the first quarter, we completely turned Tony Brackens loose and he slammed me on the turf right flat on my back, and immediately, my back went into spasms. I was done for the day. So that good feeling lasted about half of a quarter. And I took shots the following week hoping that I could recapture the pain-free symptoms, and it never took again. So, that is why I retired."