2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame: Troy Aikman, not Jerry Jones, to present Jimmy Johnson

While there’s been progress made in the relationship between Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and legendary former head coach Jimmy Johnson, they’re not yet at the point where they’ll start exchanging Valentine’s Day cards. In August, Johnson will join Jones in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but Jones isn’t having a single thought of inducting Johnson into the Cowboys coveted Ring of Honor in 2020. And when Johnson was asked if Jones would be his presenter in Canton this summer, the answer was an expected no. Instead, it’ll be a different Hall of Famer from the Cowboys dynasty years — Troy Aikman. 

Johnson made the announcement on social media and also revealed Terry Bradshaw will have the honor of sliding him into his gold jacket, in a move that adds that much more meaning to the Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers squaring off in the 2020 Hall of Fame Game. Aikman was Johnson’s first-ever draft pick for the Cowboys, at first-overall in 1989, and the two go back farther than that, with Johnson passionately attempting to convince a young Aikman to commit to Oklahoma State; where he himself was head coach at the time.

Aikman would go on to UCLA fame before Johnson got another chance to land him, this time at the NFL level, and the former Super Bowl MVP was moved to tears when Johnson was told he’d finally be inducted in 2020. 

The 76-year-old joined the Cowboys organization during the most tumultuous time in its storied history, brought in by Jones in 1989 following his purchase of the club and vilified dismissal of Tom Landry, the team’s all-time winningest and longest-tenured head coach. It was a move many fans from that era still have not forgiven Jones for, but what they ultimately got from Johnson was two more Super Bowl wins (arguably three, when considering Barry Switzer was steering a team Johnson helped build) and a slew of new Hall of Fame talent. 

Johnson was also a key part in what continues to be the most fleecing trade deal in league history, when the Cowboys traded Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for a haul of draft picks that turned into the acquisitions of Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith and others you may have heard of, namely Darren Woodson and Emmitt Smith. 

His split from the Cowboys was mutual, but exceedingly toxic, so much so that wounds have still not healed 25 years later. Johnson is finally getting his just due for leading Dallas back to NFL supremacy though, and will soon join Jones in Canton, with the hand of Aikman guiding him in. Johnson was present at Jones’ induction in 2017 — also congratulating him publicly — and drew an emotional thank you from the Cowboys owner in the process, so there’s at least a chance he eventually ends up in the Ring of Honor, albeit a small one.

Until then, maybe their busts will get along better than their real life counterparts have over the last two and a half decades.

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