Friday, April 01, 2011

An Encounter With Troy Aikman

So a couple weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon, in the mail came a flyer about a business that rents huge-screen TVs on a weekly basis.

And when I say huge, I mean huge. You get 55 inches of LCD 1080p 120Hz HDTV—delivery and set-up included—for only … are you ready for this … $ per week. For an extra $7 you can rent a TV stand to put it on, available in a variety of styles. Oops! Sorry! Not a mere everyday typical run-of-the-mill variety, but a wide variety. Wide.

Other merchandise available to rent are washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, living room sets, computers and bedroom sets. And for an extra $13 per week, they’ll throw in the mattress.

On the front of the flyer are two hunks of manhood holding a small sign, one on either side. I recognize the one man. Who has not heard of Hulk Hogan, the “pro” wrestler? But I do not know who the other man is.

“Who is Troy Aikman?” I ask the husband.

The husband says he used to be a quarterback for some “football” team. I forget which or when and I don’t know what a quarterback is. I mean, I’ve heard about quarterbacks all my life, but I don’t know what they actually do.

But get this. Later, that night, we’re out somewhere and someone starts talking about … Troy Aikman! That’s the second time today! I look at the husband like … what? This has to be God, right?

Is this a sign that I should rent the 55-inch LCD 1080p 120Hz HDTV? Or am I supposed to rent one of the other products? Or am I supposed to write a column about Troy Aikman? How can I know what this means?

Why would Troy Aikman and Hulk Hogan be on this flyer, I wonder. Some people might see them as real manly men. Both were in sports that require speed, agility, strength, power, tenacity, muscle. All which add up to pure masculinity.

Also, in both “football” and “pro” wrestling the athletes get knocked around. Don’t their brains suffer some trauma? Does a helmet make it safe to ram your head against another head over and over for years?

In an attempt to discover the deeper meaning of this double encounter with Troy Aikman, I look him up on Wikipedia. First off, his photo looks like he spends a lot of time in the tanning booth. You know the look, so distinct from a real sunshine tan. I tend to group individuals who do this frequently into a little family. So no matter what their name is, I call such a person Miss Tanning Booth, Mrs. Tanning Booth or, in this case, Mr. Tanning Booth.

Aikman is a pure sports guy. The New York Mets baseball team offered him a contract right out of high school. He chose instead to pursue “football” at the University of Oklahoma, then transferred to UCLA where he played with the Bruins. From college he went to the Dallas Cowboys. Then he had this 11-year career in “football,” breaking records and leading the team to glory over and over.

After retiring, he became a sports commentator on FOX, winning an Emmy Award for his work. He started a weekly radio show. He’s the head of the Troy Aikman Foundation, a charity that benefits children. In 2006, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Later he was inducted into the College Hall of Fame. He bought a racecar and founded the Hall of Fame Racing in 2005. He is co-owner of the San Diego Padres.

Then there’s this: “As of fall 2010, Aikman is a co-spokesman for [a rental business] along with Hulk Hogan.”

Why? Why, Troy, why?

It’s like William Shatner in the Priceline ads. Every time I see one, I think, “Come on, Bill, you’re better than this.”

Why does a guy like Aikman, with such an illustrious career, obviously rolling in the dough, busy with family, public appearances, board of directors work, sportscasting, team ownership and on and on start appearing on flyers for TV rentals?

Aha! In his Wikipedia bio it says, “Aikman's final game was a home game against the Washington Redskins. Aikman was hit by linebacker LaVar Arrington and suffered the 10th concussion of his career.”

That answers that question. But the puzzle still remains as to why I encountered Aikman twice in one day. The answer can only be destiny. I was destined to write about him for April Fool’s Day.

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