Romo Passes the Baton: The Greatest Sports Speech of My Generation
Tony Romo’s quarterback-concession speech: wow. Has there ever been something like that in major sports to pass the baton? If so, it is exceedingly rare, especially from such an intense competitor. Indeed, it has been hard to find a more powerful and evocative sports speech since the rightful standard-bearer, Lou Gehrig’s farewell.
Romo’s address to the press yesterday was no canned, forced, formulaic, cliche-filled, artificial, rah-rah bullcrap. Instead, Romo exuded pure, raw, heartfelt honesty, professional integrity, first-class sportsmanship, honor, team-first sacrifice, and true servant leadership (as opposed to the lip service so common in business and government).
Tonight I am proud to be a fan of Tony Romo, and of Dak Prescott, and of the Cowboys. Regardless of what has happened or will happen with wins or losses on the field, Tony has cemented his legacy as a winner of a leader and a human being. Highest respect…
Here is the transcript of his speech (I fixed obvious spelling, punctuation and grammar errors by the wire-service transcriber):
“You earn everything, every single day, over and over again. You have to prove it. That’s the way the NFL, that’s the way that football works. A great example of this is Dak Prescott and what he’s done. He’s earned the right to be our quarterback. As hard as that is for me to say, he’s earned that right. He’s guided the team to an 8-1 record and that’s hard to do.
“If you think for a second that I don’t want to be out there, then you’ve probably never felt the pure ecstasy of competing and winning. That hasn’t left me. In fact, it may burn now more than ever. It’s not always easy to watch. I think anyone who’s been in this position understands that. What is clear is that I was that kid once, stepping in, having to prove yourself. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. It really is an incredible time in your life. If I remember one thing from back then, it’s the people who helped me along when I was young, and if I can be that to Dak, I’ve tried to be, and I will be going forward.
“I think you all know that something magical is happening to our team. I’m not going to allow this situation to negatively affect Dak or our football team by becoming a constant distraction. I think Dak knows that I have his back, and I think I know that he has mine. Ultimately, it’s about the team; that’s what we preached our entire lives.
“I remember when I was a kid just starting out, wanting to be a part of something bigger than myself. For every high school kid out there and college player, there’s greatness in being the kind of teammate who truly wants to be part of the team. Everyone wants to be the reason they’re winning or losing.
“Every single one of us wants to be that person, but there are special moments that come from a shared commitment to play a role while doing it together. That’s what you remember, not your stats or your prestige, but your relationships and achievement that you created through a group. It’s hard to do, but there’s great joy in that. All the while, your desire burns to be the best you’ve ever been. You can be both; I’ve figured that out in this process. That’s what separates sports from everything else. That’s why we love it. That’s why we trust it, that’s why I still want to play and compete.
“Lastly, I just want to leave you with something I’ve learned in this process as well. I feel like we have two battles or two enemies going on: one with the man across from you, the second with the man inside of you. I think once you control the man inside of you, the one across from you doesn’t really matter. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do.
“Thanks guys. I appreciate it.”