Friday, April 7, 2017

Good for Romo ... but good for CBS?

Tony Romo going to CBS-TV
 (photo from Getty Images)
      Two words in the news this week to stir up readership and controversy: Tony Romo.

      This won't be as much fun as writing about our grandchildren, but if I am correct, it will draw more reaction than my previous post did.
      As I said in an e-mail and Facebook post Tuesday when the news broke, Tony Romo's retirement from football and the Dallas Cowboys is the smartest decision he's made in the game.
      Is it smart for CBS-TV to hire him? I'd say yes. Is it smart for CBS to make him the No. 1 analyst on its NFL games, alongside lead play-by-play man Jim Nantz? Not so sure about that.
      From the reactions of some of my friends on Facebook, they are happy to see Romo replace Phil Simms. OK, but let me return to that in a little bit.
      Before I go any further, here is my view on Tony Romo as the Cowboys' quarterback: It does not bother me that he is no longer there.
      I was fine with Dak Prescott replacing him last season, albeit because Romo -- again -- was injured.
      (Of course, Dak has a "hometown" edge with me. Haughton is just outside of Shreveport-Bossier; I have many friends there, and covered many a game at "the home of the Bucs" -- as Billy Montgomery and others used to say -- early in my sportswriting career.)
      On Romo: I was a fan, but I was never crazy about him. Probably I have plenty of company in this regard -- he often drove me crazier than I already am.
      Sure, his career statistics look great and he was an exciting, talented quarterback -- mobile, strong arm, great leader.
      But I can hear the great, late Jerry Byrd Sr. loudly proclaiming this about certain Cowboys players and the team in general: "LOSERS!"
      Maybe they were being politically correct, or being nice -- or maybe naïve -- but when I saw that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett each referred to Romo as "one of the greatest players in franchise history," I had to shake my head: No!
      I can give you 20 greater Cowboys players, and it wouldn't take me long.  
      Romo wasn't exactly a loser, but he was never the big winner. No Super Bowls, only two playoff victories and four losses. Lots of nice (regular season) victories. Lots of big losses.
      Exciting, yes. He often made the big play and brought them from behind to win, and  he too often made the stupid play -- or throw, interception -- and ... lost. The losses weren't totally his fault, but he had a large share.
      He was, as I noted earlier in the week: (1) the modern version of Craig Morton and Danny White (old Cowboys fans know what I mean) and (2) unlucky. 
      Romo (bad) luck: A fumbled snap on the PAT hold (Seattle playoff, 2006), dropped passes in an upset loss of Giants' proportions (playoffs at home, 2007, when the Cowboys were the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and had beaten the Giants twice in the regular season) or the Dez Bryant last-minute "no catch" call at the Packers' 1-yard line (2014 season playoff loss at Green Bay)
      Part of that, too, as he grew older were the injuries and surgeries -- the back fractures, the broken collarbones (plural), the seasons he missed almost completely (and his replacements were more than inadequate, if that's possible). 
      I was -- and I am -- skeptical that he could play much more without being injured again. The hit he took in the preseason game vs. Seattle last August wasn't exactly crushing. And he was out for weeks while Dak moved in and became a rookie sensation. Dak was fun to watch.
      So, yeah, at age 36 (37 on April 21), with a growing family, I think it's damn smart for Tony to not play any more football. 
      Maybe, as Joe Ferguson -- who knows something about being a quarterback in the NFL, and an older one -- suggested, Romo could have asked Mr. Jones to cut his salary substantially and remained as the No. 2 QB, ready to play if Dak couldn't. 
      But Tony's ego probably wouldn't allow that. Not when, say, the Houston Texans or Denver Broncos were willing to pay him substantially to be their No. 1 QB.
      The TV networks, and especially CBS, solved Tony's career decision. If they're offering huge money to be an NFL broadcaster, why go out there and risk another back injury, or even a permanent disability?
      Look, I always admired the way Romo handled himself on and off the field. He owned up to the losses; he wasn't an excuse maker. He was, I believe, cooperative with the media -- although I have a media friend who thought he was a basically boring interview. He was loved by and nice to his fans.
      Maybe he will be an outstanding TV analyst. CBS must think so, and other networks were interested.
      The ex-Cowboys who went into TV announcing is a good list, starting -- of course -- with the great Dandy Don Meredith. 
      Troy Aikman certainly has made the move from QB to outstanding analyst. He is one of the few I will listen to, although Joe Buck -- his play-by-play partner -- to me is growing as thin as his hair.
      Back to Phil Simms. Never had a problem with his announcing, but apparently a lot of people do. Certainly admired him as a quarterback; his story -- small-college QB star to Super Bowl winner -- was similar to our man, Mr. Terry Bradshaw.
      So for CBS to push aside Simms -- although CBS said it wants to keep him on its network team -- for Romo is puzzling to me. And one thought I had is that Peyton Manning is not interested because Peyton, seems to me, would be an excellent TV personality. He's done a few commercials, and few talk football better than he does.
      Hope it works for Romo and CBS. Stepping into the No. 1 role right away, Tony will have to learn quickly. At least when he became the Cowboys' No. 1 QB, then-head coach 
Bill Parcells had him go through a waiting period.
       It will help him that Nantz is the smooth, professional longtime "Voice of CBS Sports," and seems to be a class act.
When Bradshaw broke into broadcasting, he first was paired with Verne Lundquist. That hardly could have been better. 
       Here is one thing: With CBS, Romo will get to take part in a Super Bowl. And sitting in that broadcast booth, he's not liable to be tackled.             


  1. From Jason Brown: Two playoff wins. But I'm mostly with you. He was a good, but not great QB. And I still think the 2014 team was the best in the league that season.

  2. From Maxie Hays: Good man, good golfer, pretty good QB!

  3. From David Lee: He made the right decision for himself and his family. He saw the hand writing on the wall and CBS made it easy for him. I wish him well.

  4. From James Bustillo: Great read and I agree with all of it.
    One thing I would not be surprised about, however. Let a Monday come along with Jerry calling him just after a Sunday game injury to Dak and I believe he’d be out of the booth so quickly that it would rival any career scramble he had previously made.

  5. From Jim Pruett: Who would have thought up the Romo scenario when he went down less than a year ago? Ha! Only in America.

  6. From Jimmy Russell: Correct about Romo. He just never got it done.