Troy Aikman has some catching up to do on the list of most popular athletes on Instagram, trailing Cristiano Ronaldo for the top spot by an approximate count of 75.9 million to 38.1 thousand.
But for a 49-year-old father of two teenage girls who still is relatively new to all this . . . not bad!
Actually, Aikman has weightier social media numbers on Twitter (1.5 million followers) and Facebook (615,000, plus a private account), but he said he has particularly enjoyed the relatively straightforward world of Instagram.
“You don’t have to read all the content; you just see it and then move on,” the Fox analyst said Wednesday as he prepared for Sunday’s Giants-Cowboys opener. “It’s just kind of a snapshot of what’s happening.”
Aikman said he initially started two years ago to see what his girls, Jordan, now 15, and Ally, now 14, were up to.
“I got on it and then I thought, wow, this is kind of a cool little platform,” he said. “I went from a private account to a public account and just decided, OK, I’ll share a little bit of what’s happening in my life for those that are interested.”
That is the most telling part. As Hall of Fame quarterbacks go, Aikman has a reputation for being grounded, a vibe that comes through in the pictures he posts, especially those involving his daughters.
They seem to be unusually good sports about it for people that age, from photos of vacations and school sports events and early childhood to a inside-the-car video Aikman posted of Jordan driving on city streets for the first time.
“I think my girls, they’re really normal, they’re not caught up in it, but I think they kind of enjoy that I am proud to share what we’re doing as a family,” he said. “I can’t recall any time they said, ‘Dad, can you take that down? It’s not a good picture of me!’ ”
Aikman’s offseason Instagram album featured a June safari to Botswana that he called “awesome.”
“Everything that I had heard, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to it, but it far surpassed it,” he said. “I never want to get too dramatic, so I don’t want to say it was life-changing, but it certainly made a huge impact on me.
“I’m not a hunter, but I have friends who are hunters. I’ve had friends who have gone to Africa [to hunt]. I thought, OK, whatever, it’s not what I do but if that’s what you want to do, great. Then you go over and see these animals and I really can’t imagine someone shooting these animals.
“Just being able to see them in their environment and talking to people there, what all that means to them, it was pretty incredible, and it was a great experience for my girls.”
Aikman said the trip enhanced his longtime interest in photography, which he hopes to pursue more seriously when his daughters leave for college and he has more time on his hands.
For now, there are experiences to be had (and shared). Jordan made the field hockey team at her high school and Aikman plans to watch as many games as possible — from a distance.
“I’m sure the parents of her teammates think I’m not very social, but I prefer to stand as far away from people as I can to watch the game,” he said. “I just don’t want the commentary. I just want to watch them. I just want to be their dad.”
Aikman said despite his embrace of social media — all of which he handles himself — he does not feel an obsessive need to post regularly the way some celebrities do.
“I just try to keep it honest with what I’m doing,” he said. “I don’t give it a whole lot of thought. I’m too old anyway, but now it’s all about: What’s my brand? I don’t know what your brand is, but I certainly don’t know what my brand is.
“I just say: I don’t care. Whenever I feel like posting something or sharing something I do it. I’ve enjoyed that part of it. I think my girls have kind of enjoyed it, too.”