Thank You, Tony Romo

Thank you, Tony Romo: for your passion, drive, intelligence, skill, work ethic, thrilling plays, toughness, and overall excellence for the Cowboys over the years. If football foremost is an entertainment medium, you’re one of the best there ever was — for the right reasons. From your leadership and professionalism to your high-quality play on the field, you went far beyond anyone’s wildest expectations as an undrafted free agent, to become one of the top few quarterbacks in team history, a multiple Pro Bowler, the all-time Blue Star leader in both yards and passer rating, and the fourth-highest passer rating ever in the NFL. All that has been despite inconsistent, often inferior talent and a coaching carousel around you up until the last few years. That’s saying something.

I hurt for you that you never won a Super Bowl. You were more than good enough, and better than many QBs who did. Dan Marino may be the only comparably skilled QB in that boat, and he’s a Hall of Famer. Unlike Marino, you were grotesquely under-appreciated, disrespected and underrated nationally for many years, perhaps still today, even by many Cowboys fans — but not this one. I’m under no illusion regarding the capriciousness of Hall of Fame voters, but the way you carried and led this team so superbly for so long, with such drive and skill, with so many different players coming and going, there’s no doubt in my mind you deserve every honor the team and league can bestow.

No less authorities than Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach have called you a great quarterback. Their word should end the discussion. I’ll take it over any others’ because they — more than anyone else — know how it is to lead America’s Team under that withering spotlight, and to do so with skill, class, and excitement. And they had far better surrounding talent and coaching then you did for most of your career.

Then, just when that surrounding talent and coaching caught up to your own abilities, and you finally got an offensive line worthy of your talent: major injuries took their toll for a few years, then an unbelievable rookie (also a QB of uncommon smarts, athleticism, class, and poise) took your job.

What could you do? There was nobody to blame, nothing at which to direct rage, except perhaps just the bad luck of timing against an unexpectedly great development for the team. Ultimately, to you, it was about the team. So what did you do? You handled it with the most grace and class of any sports speech in decades.

Speaking of class — that’s Jerry Jones’ gesture to cut you and let you keep your signing-bonus money uncontested, and even leaves the door open to play again. Still, please don’t break any more bones. Take good care of that beautiful family of yours and enjoy the relative safety of the broadcast booth, and enlighten us all on football insight for decades to come.

Now for the memories…so many…so I’ll just share a few of the very best — some of the great plays that will go down in lore (YouTube links work as of this writing, even if embed play may not):

* 2006: I was in Texas Stadium, watching the game in person with Rich Thompson (Houston fan), when Bill Parcells inserted Romo late in the fourth quarter of a domination of the Toxins. We witnessed the first two NFL passes of Tony’s career: a long completion on 3rd down, then a touchdown.

* 2006: One of the first of many “Houdini” plays, fourth down against the Eagles, escapes one pass rusher and throws a first-down strike while being dragged down by another:

* 2012: Eagles blitz? Cowboys 3rd-down completion! Another “Houdini” play for Tony (link to video).

* 2007: Game-winning drive with no time outs, against Detroit and future Cowboys Jon Kitna and Rod Marinelli, overcoming his own fumble and completing a fourth-down toss. This drive might have convinced those guys to join Dallas and Romo…

* 2013: Romo throws a game-winning touchdown on fourth down to beat those awful, nasty, detested Redskins 24-23 (link, no embed enabled).

* 2009: Against the Falcons, six seconds left in the half, perhaps the greatest Romo “Houdini” play until the next one on the list (link only, no embed).

* 2014: J.J. Watt was going to crush Tony Romo…was. Touchdown Dallas.

* 2007: Snap sails way over your head on third and three? No problemo, mi amigo. Go back and get it, then run 37 yards for a 4-yard first down…utterly unforgettable! As the announcers said, it “puts him in the hearts and minds of Cowboys fans forever”. Yet folks forget that was a 2-minute-drill drive and Tony ran in the leading TD himself on third and 10 with 11 seconds left. The play is at 4:40, but fans really should watch this whole drive. Wow…

Finally, the NFL’s “Top 10” Romo moments, including a couple of the above, the “broken back” game and the “punctured lung” game (link only).

God’s speed, Tony. Now go excel in the broadcast booth like you did on the field, and you’ll be more than respected. Then when the time comes that the Boys need a new quarterback coach, another offensive coordinator…Jerry had better at least give you that call.


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