DALLAS — When NFL on FOX color commentator Troy Aikman heard that the Dallas Cowboys were interviewing Mike McCarthy, he had his doubts.
Aikman has unique insight into both McCarthy, who he got to know calling his games as the Green Bay Packers coach from 2006-2018, and the Cowboys, the team he won three Super Bowls with from 1989-2000.
"When the Cowboys were interviewing him, I thought it was a great interview," Aikman said at North Park Mall for the Children's Cancer Fund fashion show. "I wasn't sure it would be a great fit. But as it turns out, it is. I think it's a good thing for the Cowboys. I think it's a good thing for all the fans."
The Cowboys faded to an 8-8 finish under coach Jason Garrett, whose contract will be allowed to expire and the organization decided to move on from on Sunday. The club lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 17-9 in Week 16 in a game that would have sealed the NFC East title, their second straight season as division champions, and their fourth title since Garrett became full-time coach in 2011.
If there is a perception that the Cowboys lacked a certain fortitude, Aikman believes that if they take on the identity of a McCarthy team, they will emulate their coach.
"I think there's a toughness to them," said Aikman. "He's a Pittsburgh guy. He's a football coach is what he is, and I say that with all the respect. And, so, there's a toughness that he brings."
The big question is how McCarthy will be able to work within the structure of Jerry Jones' team, where he has been the owner, president, and general manager since 1989. Even as GM in name, Jones delegates some of the responsibilities to chief operating officer Stephen Jones and vice president of player personnel Will McClay.
Said Aikman: "I think it's important for a coach, when he takes over a program, to have full support and loyalty from the staff that's there with him. I think that's a good thing. And then I think Jerry just needs to let the Coach coach, and then if I think that happens, I think he has an opportunity. I think that gives coaches the best opportunity to go out and have success."
The Cowboys haven't been to the NFC Championship Game since 1995, while McCarthy took to the Packers to three conference title game appearances in 2010, 2014 and 2016. McCarthy’s Packers won the Super Bowl in Arlington in 2010 and were the gatekeepers for Dallas in those 2014 and 2016 appearances.
For a coach that was 3-7 against the Cowboys for his career, Dallas is hoping he is just as successful at helping the franchise return to its championship glory.
Do you share Troy Aikman’s assessment on the hiring of Mike McCarthy as the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.