Those two cities are: New York (Jets) and Detroit (Lions).
Take those two games out of the equation and Romo would have only 5 interceptions this year. Yeah, I know, you can’t take those two games out. The travesty is that ESPN, Sports Illustrated and many other sports media outlets really only consider those two games when evaluating Tony. The two games, they figure, Romo mostly lost by himself (regardless of the fact that, the INT in that Jets game, Dez Bryant ran a poor route and QB’s have to throw to a spot – not a receiver – because the game is so fast paced).
This sports media stigma in-turn influences perception, which then influences the Pro-bowl voting. Too bad they can’t point to the games Romo mostly won by himself, namely the 49er and Redskins games. If you want to count Dallas wins and losses, Jason Garrett is responsible for at least two of the Cowboys losses himself: the Patriots and Cardinals games (and I count at least 3 – the Jets loss, to me, was as much if not more Garrett’s fault for calling passing plays instead of runs with Dez hurt and the team riding a lead. Same with the Lions game for that matter). Whatever, right?
Look, Romo only has 9 INT’s this season anyway. By comparison, Pro-bowl pick Eli Manning has 16 INT’s. In fact, Romo is better than Manning in most stats this year: Completion percentage – 65.4 to 60.3; Passer rating – 102.2 to 90.3; and Touchdowns – 29 t0 26. That’s actually better than most QB’s in the NFL. Let me put this perception thing my way for a moment: Tony Romo, who by perception throws too many INT’s, has thrown 20 more touchdowns than interceptions this pro-bowl snubbed year. Eli Manning, supposedly having a MVP type season for his NY Giants, has thrown only 10 more touchdowns than interceptions. Tony has thrown twice as many TD’s over INT’s as Eli!, while also throwing just over half as many INT’s overall. Now, I’ll give it up for Rodgers and Brees, they are having great years. But Eli? Over Romo? Really?
I wrote on Monday that I thought the Dallas Cowboys, individually – with few exceptions, play half-hearted half the time. Jay Ratliff is one of those few exceptions, so is Tony Romo (I think Sean Lee is, but he hasn’t played long enough to tell). Who’s fault is this? A lack of effort, lack of heart and making ‘business decisions’ (ie: don’t dive for that catch or tackle that player so you don’t get hurt) are things I’ve seen all year, the past several years in fact, with these Cowboys. But not with Tony Romo. Perhaps Garrett’s “be great today” should change to “give 100% effort on every play, every game”. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t want the Cowboys players to go all Dez Bryant and give all out careless effort. Leave that to Dez only (and, by the way, let Dez play all out, it’s one of the reasons he’s such a good player. Just work on his routes and reads this off season for God’s sake!). How many times since Romo has been playing has he given half-hearted performances or taken plays off? What else do you want from this guy?
This year alone, Romo has been listed as one of the most overrated QB’s as well as one of the most disliked – right up there with Michael Vick the Dog fighter. How is this possible? The only things Vick and Romo have in common is they both had broken ribs and both play QB in the NFC East. Unlike Vick, Romo has done nothing on or off the field to be disliked for. So what is it? Why would a player who is so consistent (yes, consistent. Look at the stats) and has played (3 Pro Bowls) and continues to play at such a high level for so long be so beat up and vilified by so many?
The answer, well the easy answer, is this: Tony Romo has the good fortune of playing QB for the Dallas Cowboys, one of the most loved/hated franchises in all professional sports. One of the most hated/envied teams by many NFL players that don’t wear the star. Most people are indifferent to the Cincinnati Bengals (no offense), for example. But if you are not a fan of the Cowboys, you hate them. You hate their popularity or that you don’t think they have earned their fame. These fans, these players hate that the Dallas Cowboys are known as ‘America’s Team’. They will try to knock them off that perch every chance they get.
The hard answer is more subtle and mostly mine: I think that deep inside most fans, most players, they like Tony Romo. They like that he has fun playing the game, smiling all the time. They like that he is an unassuming, undrafted free agent from a AA school that earned a starting QB role in the NFL. They like that he didn’t hold out or make his team break the bank for him in contract negotiations. They quietly, inwardly, root for the guy, even though they outwardly root or play against him. They like that he doesn’t give up or lay down on the field of play the way their own QB sometimes does. These players and fans secretly like that he seems to have balance and perspective. When Tony said, after a loss in the last game of 2008 that kept the Cowboys out of the playoffs (wincing in pain from the beating he took on the field) – paraphrasing – ‘if this is the worst that happens to me I’ve had a pretty good life so far’, the sports media and many fans vilified Tony and said he doesn’t care. Inside, however, everyone knew Tony was right. It’s pretty lucky and pretty cool to get to play in the NFL, but it’s not the end of the world, not when your dad is fighting cancer. How can a player play all out, get hurt, leave it all out on the field – then lose – and still have the perspective and balance to know it’s not the end of the world? and couldn’t I use a little of that perspective myself?
They like that you’re not gonna get a ‘sorry’ from Tony, because he gives it all he’s got and has nothing to apologize for because of that. They also like that Tony doesn’t sit out the year demanding a trade or he’s retiring. They like that he’s not an **shole and is always willing to talk to the same media that trashes him, before and after a game.
Outside of football, they like that Tony doesn’t take advantage of drunk girls at clubs. They like that he’s not addicted to cough syrup and doesn’t get in legal trouble. They like that he can’t sing worth a darn and still does Journey songs at karaoke. They like that Romo, a simple, mid-western raised man gets to date beautiful women, celebrities, and got to marry one too! They also like that he plays a pretty good game of golf and, I hear, a pretty good game of basketball as well.
Maybe I’m mistaking envy for like.