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Dak Is All-Time 'Best Leader,' Says Cowboys Legend Aikman

"Dak has the perfect temperament,'' Aikman said to me regarding the challenges of being the Cowboys QB. "He's the perfect guy.''

OXNARD, Calif. - A great football leader? Maybe it takes one to know one. And maybe that's why the iconic Troy Aikman, sitting high in the catbird seat above the Oxnard training camp practice field on Sunday, at one point leaned over to owner Jerry Jones with an observation about Dak Prescott.

"I haven't been around many players, as a broadcaster or as a player, who carry themselves the way that he does,'' Aikman told Jones, adding, "The Cowboys are very fortunate to have someone like him representing the team.''

Aikman was himself a leader during a Cowboys run of three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s, a level of success that put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. How special does he think Dallas QB Prescott is in that category?

“I think he's the best at it,'' Aikman said. "I put him in a category in a handful of players in this league. What he represents for this franchise and this league. The type of person and teammate he is.''

I asked Aikman about the particular challenges of being the QB for "America's Team.'' These go beyond just executing plays and justifying the salary (in Dak's case, his new four-year, $160 million deal) and trying to win the same way the other 31 teams win.

“I think the challenges are a little bit different for the Cowboys quarterback because of the visibility and the expectations and coming in each season,'' Aikman told me. "But I’ve always said that I don’t know if the pressures are any more demanding for the Dallas quarterback as they are for any of the other 31 franchises. There’s only 32 of these jobs. There’s a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations that come with that. But when you’re the quarterback for such a visible franchise like the Cowboys, I think that you’re really under a microscope then, and you hope that you have someone that can deal with that part of it and still go out and perform on the field.''

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Aikman's evaluation of Prescott as a player on Sunday, especially after last year's season-ending ankle surgery?

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“He looked great,'' Aikman said. "Every time I see him he gets better and better. I expect him to have an outstanding season. ... He knows ... it’s 100 percent and can hold up. He’s got a lot in there. He’s got some steel rods and a plate and everything else.

“He may break his leg (joking), but it won’t be where the break was last year."

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And really, maybe the successful rehab is tied to the "leadership'' issue and the "character'' issue. Aikman's role now, after a Hall-of-Fame career in Dallas as a three-time Super Bowl winner, is with FOX Sports, observing all 32 teams as the lead TV analyst. But again, his ties with Dallas remain in place - as does his trust in Prescott carrying on a legacy featuring the likes of Roger Staubach and Aikman himself. Aikman has before told me, I love Dak Prescott. I love everything about him.'' 

And it seems that admiration has grown following the injury.

"Dak has the perfect temperament,'' Aikman said to me regarding the challenges of being the Cowboys QB. "He's the perfect guy.''

CONTINUE READING: More Aikman Q&A Here - On Jimmy and Jerry