LOS ANGELES, April 4, 2017 — We all knew that the Tony Romo era in Dallas had ended. Now we have confirmation that we will not see Romo for anyone else either. With owner Jerry Jones ready for the Dak Prescott era, neither Jones nor Romo wanted to see Romo as a backup.
Johnny Unitas went from the Greatest Game Ever Played with the Baltimore Colts to an injury riddled shell of himself with the San Diego Charger. Broadway Joe Namath went from being a hero with the New York Jets to an injured mess with the Los Angeles Rams.
Tony Romo will not be going out that way, but he will also not be riding off into the sunset like John Elway either. For reasons that defy logic, the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans decided not to trade for Romo. The only team that wanted him was the CBS broadcast booth. Phil Simms is being pushed aside so Romo can be on the number one CBS announcing team on NFL Sundays.
Romo leaves the game as a player who was far more polarizing than he ever should have been. Some players deliberately court controversy. Romo never did.
Those who hated him would hate anybody who quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys and dated supermodels. Romo respected the game of football and was a consummate professional on and off the field. His detractors point out that he never led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. Romo never reached the heights of Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman, but he was worthy of the title he held. In time he will be seen in a similar vein as Danny White, another underrated Cowboys quarterback who came very close but did not hold the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Romo was great for the game of football. After his 13-3 2007 Cowboys lost a home playoff game to the rival New York Giants, Romo made no excuses. He spoke about the 13-3 1996 Denver Broncos team that also lost a home playoff game in stunning fashion. John Elway would overcome that crushing defeat and lead the Broncos to Super Bowls the following two seasons.
Romo did not see that happy ending, but what he did was show good character at a time when the NFL is under attack for far too many players lacking character.
Romo showed class on and off the field. In one game against the Buffalo Bills, he threw five interceptions. Somehow, he overcame all of that to lead the Cowboys to two scores in the final 90 seconds for a thrilling 25-24 victory.
Romo was always humble. Try finding a clip of him bragging. He was gracious in victory and defeat.
Romo was tougher than his critics gave him credit for. He did more than play hurt. He played injured. Eventually, the injuries took their toll as Father Time remains undefeated. Last year rookie Dak Prescott filled in for an injured Romo and never looked back. Romo gave a heartfelt, painful speech endorsing Prescott as the leader of the team.
The end was fitting because Romo almost never had a beginning in the NFL. None of the 32 teams drafted him. He made the Cowboys squad in 2003 as an undrafted walk-on. Somehow over the course of four years, he went from an afterthought to the starting quarterback position. Leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record gave hope to a fan base that had waited over a decade for solid football when Troy Aikman retired.
Off the field, Romo’s charitable giving is well known. He gave seven figures to a local church to help them help local schools.
Like many great football players, Romo is walking away earlier than he wants to leave the game. Injuries aside, he can still play at a high level. He is certainly a locker room leader not by his words, but by his exemplary behavior.
His retirement is the National Football League’s loss and CBS’s gain. He will succeed in the broadcast booth because he is a winner in every sense of the word. He did not win a Super Bowl, but any father with sons would be proud to have them conduct themselves in the Tony Romo mold.