ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Exactly 100 days before the Super Bowl, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman aren’t expecting their old team to make it.
They can hardly believe it, either.
“To be done before you get out of the month of October is pretty shocking,” Aikman said.
Like many fans, the Hall of Fame quarterbacks were expecting big things from the Dallas Cowboys this season. They also had more than the usual reasons to root for their old club — Staubach is the chairman of the Super Bowl host committee and Aikman the vice-chair. Aikman also is broadcasting the game for Fox.
But Dallas is 1-5, closer to earning the top pick in the draft than a spot in the playoffs. And the Cowboys just lost quarterback Tony Romo to a broken left collarbone.
So instead of at least trying to become the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium, they appear ready to join the worst records of the Jerry Jones era — 1-15 in Aikman’s rookie year and 5-11 in Aikman’s final season and each of the next two years.
“I thought we would be more 5-1 than 1-5,” Staubach said. “I still feel we can be a respectful team the rest of the year. But we have put ourselves in a hole.”
Both spoke Thursday at a luncheon at Cowboys Stadium celebrating the countdown to kickoff. Jones took part, too, and the owner said he’s hopeful the new starting quarterback, 38-year-old Jon Kitna, can lead a turnaround.
“I felt better when (Romo) was healthy and was able to give us what he has to win these games,” Jones said. “On the other hand, I’m not about to dismiss the opportunity here with Kitna. That’d be nuts. Plus, I think he gives us a much better chance than to have the mentality that we don’t have a chance to win a lot of ballgames.”
Romo doesn’t need surgery, just 6 to 8 weeks for the bone to heal on its own. Jones said it’s too early to say whether Romo will play again this season.
“The faster he heals, the better I like (the chances),” Jones said. “We have to see what the circumstances are at that time. We have to see how well we are playing.”
Jones brought up a saying he often heard from his college coaches: “They remember what you do in November.” His point was that even “if we don’t have an opportunity to be in the playoffs, we want to be playing good.”
Aikman can commiserate with Romo because he broke his left collarbone in 1998. He missed five games plus a bye, then returned to lead the Cowboys to a division title.
“It was my non-throwing shoulder, so you’d kind of think that you could go out and play as long as you can tolerate the pain,” he said. “But I couldn’t throw the ball. I couldn’t open up my left shoulder at all to make a throw. And then you certainly are at risk in the pocket of injuring it even further.”
He’s not ruling out a few more starts for Romo.
“If you’re healthy and you’re told that you’re capable of playing and the medical staff signs off on it, to me, you play because that’s what you are paid to do,” Aikman said. “But I’m not the one paying bills and writing the checks, so it’s easy for me to say that.”
Staubach said he’s available to play if things don’t work out with Kitna. Although he’s 68, Staubach was known as Captain Comeback.
“I have offered to play quarterback on Sunday,” Staubach said. “My arm is in good shape. I think I can help them without Tony out there. I don’t know Kitna. He’s a nice guy, though. But he’s about my age, isn’t he? He is a veteran good quarterback, but I’m a veteran quarterback, too. … I want the Cowboys to get back on track. If I could help I would get out there and do it.”
How about you, Troy?
“The way they’re protecting these quarterbacks, I think I could play now,” said Aikman, a month shy of 44 yet only a few years older than Brett Favre. “I’ve always said, if I didn’t have to get hit, physically, I think I could play. And they’re not letting the quarterbacks get hit, so I think I might could do it.”