Three months before the draft, Troy Aikman told me he thought Johnny Manziel might be a second-round talent who needed to be more focused on football. What does the Cowboys legend say now that Dallas passed on Manziel, leaving the first-rounder to start his career in Cleveland?

By Mike Fisher

DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) — Troy Aikman generally conducted his Dallas Cowboys career in a buttoned-up CEO style. He was smart and reserved, relied heavily on his strong family and his UCLA education and his belief that humility was a path to greatness.

Aikman has three Super Bowls, a Hall-of-Fame bust and a No. 1 job at FOX to show for it.

He views Johnny Manziel as someone who needs to grasp that first paragraph full of things before he gets close to accomplishing the second paragraph full of things.

And yet … he is surprised the Cowboys didn’t actually draft Johnny Manziel?

“I thought there was a real good chance if he fell to the Cowboys’ pick that (Jerry Jones) would take him,” Aikman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I understand why they didn’t. It would have certainly added a lot of excitement around here, but I don’t think it would have been best for the club, certainly not in the short term. There’s a lot of other needs, as we saw last year, that this team has, so it was probably the right thing not taking him, but I was a little surprised.”

There are salary-cap reasons for Dallas to have opted to not invest in a first-round QB alongside the pricey Tony Romo. There could be chemistry reasons, too; when Aikman was the rookie starter in 1989, coach Jimmy Johnson invited Valley Ranch friction by selecting Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft.

For the “short term,” Aikman clearly feels, this needs to clearly be Romo’s team.

Aikman has told me he’s rooting for the success of the Texas A&M great, passed over by Dallas in favor of offensive lineman Zack Martin. But he’s added that he believes that success with the Cleveland Browns won’t come unless Manziel’s focus is complete.

I have termed this process “Dismounting The Swan.” Troy is more … subtle.

“I think when the time comes for him to get serious about football and put in the time, I’m confident he’ll do that,” Aikman said. “He’s going to have to do that if he’s going to be successful. There’s no shortcuts in this league to becoming a great player. Cleveland has invested a lot in him and expects a lot from him, and I’m sure he recognizes that.

“He likes to have a good time, I know that, but if he can stay focused on football and commit himself, which is what it’s going to require, I think he has a chance to be really good.”

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