In an unimportant Saturday pre-season game that the Dallas Cowboys lost 12 – 7 to the Arizona Cardinals, on an offensive series where players are just getting used to each other, Cowboys QB, Tony Romo, harmlessly overthrew rookie WR, Terrance Williams. No big deal.
And it would have and should have stayed no big deal, except for how Romo decided to describe how the play transpired. When talking about the overthrow, Romo explained it as: “It was an adjustment route, so he has to see it a little differently”. (Meaning that Terrance should have recognized something and adjusted his route. He didn’t, so the ball sailed over his head.) Ok, that’s probably true, but why do I need to know that? When Romo could have simply said “I overthrew him. It’s a pre-season game, and this was our first time in game together”. To me, that would have sufficed as an answer because that’s what happened. So why point out the the rookie did something wrong?
It’s probably splitting hairs, but it seems like Romo missed yet another opportunity show he’s a leader and not just sound like one. I don’t really care about the the overthrow itself (though it’s been said about Romo that when he doesn’t plant his feet the ball sails sometimes), but about Romo not taking responsibility for it. The mark of a good leader is taking responsibility even when something’s not entirely your fault.
The other players in the locker room, knowing how things are supposed to go, usually know who’s at fault on a failed play. If they don’t, it will be pointed out in the film room. To take responsibility, as the leader of the team, is a gesture that builds respect with your teammates. It says you have their back. When you blame others, even when you’re right to do so, you look like a finger pointer, a bus driver, or many other things that don’t describe a leader.
Romo, who has ten years in the NFL, and is the defacto team leader – by contract and tenure and position on the team – should know better. Not to say that when a player screws up on the field, the QB shouldn’t correct them or even repremand them, of course he should. But when asked later by the media about a certain play, he should take the responsibility if something went wrong. I know Romo takes a lot of heat for the Cowboys ills that are mostly not his fault. So maybe he says these things because he wants us all to know he’s aware of what’s happening on the field, like we think Peyton Manning does (actually he probably could care less what we think), but being a leader of a football team, to me, is more about having your player’s backs. It will go a long way in the huddle and in the locker room.