Wednesday, September 6, 2000

Aikman's vision, memory shaken by latest big hit

AP Sports Writer

IRVING, Texas (AP) — When Troy Aikman got up from his fourth sack, everything looked blurry out of one eye. So he started looking for the contact lens he figured had been knocked loose.

Thing is, he hasn't worn contacts since having laser surgery more than a year ago.

Vision problems and slight memory loss were among the early symptoms Aikman felt Sunday after suffering the ninth concussion of his career. As of Tuesday night, the Dallas quarterback still had a headache and some dizziness.

Despite it all, Aikman told his agent, Leigh Steinberg, he's determined to continue playing football — maybe as soon as Sunday against Arizona.

“I talked to him an hour ago and he has not made a final decision,” Steinberg said late Tuesday. “It's partly going to be a reaction to his symptoms.

“Troy's tough, but I'm hopeful he'll sit out a week.”

Steinberg said he and Aikman “really haven't” talked about retirement because this latest head injury is not as severe as either of the two he suffered last season. And, earlier this year, a comprehensive exam showed that none of his previous injuries caused permanent damage.

“In essence, they gave him a clean bill of health,” Steinberg said.

Steinberg always encourages his clients not to take any risks after suffering head injuries. His pleading helped convince Steve Young to retire after symptoms lingered long after a concussion last season.

With Aikman, Steinberg's biggest fear is that he'll return too soon and be susceptible to another concussion. Young's last hit came a week after an undiagnosed concussion.

“Someone who has had one concussion has a greater chance of a second in close proximity to the first,” Steinberg said. “The safer route is to sit out a week.”

Aikman is well aware of the risks. He's attended several seminars organized by Steinberg that featured leaders in the study of concussions and the quarterback and agent have met privately with experts.

“Troy has made a major effort to educate himself,” Steinberg said. “Part of being cautious and careful was making those doctor visits this offseason.”

Steinberg said there were no plans for Aikman to visit those doctors again to make sure things are still OK. That could change if his symptoms get worse or don't go away.

Aikman was hurt during a season-opening 41-14 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday. A heavy blitz led to four sacks and five incompletions, including an interception returned for a touchdown.

Aikman was taken to a hospital for tests, then cleared hours later.

Randall Cunningham replaced Aikman and bruised his throwing hand. Although the team lists him as questionable, he expects to be ready to start against the Cardinals if needed.

Against the Eagles, Dallas also lost receiver Joey Galloway to a season-ending knee injury. He was acquired in February to be the sparkplug of a new timing-passed offense that's similar to what Aikman ran when he led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s.

If Aikman takes Sunday off, he'll have an extra day to prepare for Dallas' next game: Monday night in Washington against the defending division champions and their new cornerback, former Cowboy Deion Sanders.

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