No one in the NFL catches more attention, both good and bad, than the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. The media loves to talk about the Cowboys whether they are the Cowboys of the 90′s that I grew up with, or the disappointment of the last decade. It is through this premise that I choose to think about how a quarterback like Tony Romo would be treated if he did not have a star on the side of his helmet.
Tony Romo was an undrafted quarterback brought in for a try out as a favor by Bill Parcells to his offensive Coordinator Sean Payton. Payton saw something in this unknown kid from Southern Illinois University and thought he could be a decent back up. Romo was a third string QB for the first three years of his career, until finally he broke through in the 2006 preseason. At the time the Cowboys had an aging Drew Bledsoe at quarterback and a God awful offensive line. The Cowboys started the season sputtering and needed life, so 6 games into the 2006 season Romo was inserted as the starting quarterback. He went on to throw for 2,903 yards and 19 touchdowns in his ten games of work, earning him a trip to the Pro Bowl and leading the Cowboys to a Wild Card birth in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Tony he was also the holder on field goals and had the infamous dropped snap that cost the Cowboys the game in Seattle. Despite the disappointment of the snap, “The Legend of Tony Romo” was born that season. He has gone on to produce four seasons of more than 4,000 yards and another nearly 3,500 yard season and one season that was cut short due to injury.Romo also lead the Cowboys to the best record in football in 2007, and just recently this past season he became the Cowboys All-Time leader in passing yards.
Think about that last statement, the Cowboys All-Time leader in passing yards. He has thrown for more yards than such greats as Danny White, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. Tony Romo has accomplished some amazing things as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. The problem for Tony Romo, is that he has not been as accomplished as the others in the win column. People like to point to his playoff failures, and most recently the inability for the Cowboys to even make the Postseason.
Using all of the accolades I have presented above, lets change the subject and take the name Romo out of the equation and change the variables of the situation. If any other team had an undrafted player go on to lead their team in passing yards, in only six years of playing, that guy would be celebrated as one of the best players to ever play for that franchise. I point to a guy on the Cowboys rival, Victor Cruz, as the prime example. Cruz came from nowhere to become the go to receiver for the Giants and is celebrated as coming from a small school, UMass, to become an NFL star.
The media is mostly to blame for Tony Romo’s image, because they like to talk about the leader of the Cowboys. But lets be honest here, in the time from Troy Aikman’s retirement until Tony Romo, you never even heard anything about the Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks, because they were all terrible. Tony Romo burst onto the scene and the media sunk their teeth in. His critics like to point to his trip to the Bahamas during the bye week with then girlfriend Jessica Simpson as a knock against Romo. What they fail to mention is that Romo was there with his All-World tight end Jason Witten and his wife as well. But only the quarterback is knocked for taking a vacation with Ms. Simpson (I believe they are all just as jealous as I am).
Lets be honest, Tony Romo is not the best quarterback in football by any stretch of the imagination, while at the same time he is not the worst quarterback in the NFL either. He is closer to the best than he is the worst. His critics like to point to the failures in the Postseason or his failures to reach the Postseason, but they all forget one big thing. Football is the ultimate team game, it takes all 11 guys (on each side of the ball and special teams) to make a team win the game, but it only takes one guy not doing their job to lose the game. The media and the NFL enthusiasts like to talk about the Cowboys quarterback because they get the most attention. Then because they get so much attention, people like to be the first to bash and scoff when the team fails to perform. If Tony Romo played with any other logo on the side of his helmet and had the same accomplishments he has had in Dallas he would be celebrated as one of the best to ever play for that franchise. But in Dallas, its not about stats, its about championships and that will never change.