Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Today’s average Cowboy fan probably never saw Danny White play. For those fans, he was the QB who became the starter when Roger Staubach retired after the 1979 season. Roger was a tough act to follow. Staubach played in 4 Super Bowls (VI, X, XII, XIII) winning 2 of them and was named the MVP of the Cowboys first Super Bowl.
The reason White is even relevant is that our own Tony Romo is most often compared to Danny White (even I have made that comparison in the past). Why?
Because Danny was at the helm of some really talented Cowboys teams, but he could never win the big game. Sound familiar?
White led the Cowboys to three straight NFC Championship games and lost all 3. In 1980, the Cowboys finished 2nd in the NFC East with a 12-4 record but lost to their division rival Eagles in the NFC Championship game 20-7 (the Eagles went on to lose to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV). In 1981, the Cowboys won the NFC East with another 12-4 record and returned to the NFC Championship to play the 49ers. This time Danny and the Cowboys were done in by Dwight Clark and “The Catch” and lost 28-27. The 49ers went on to beat the Bengals 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI. The strike shortened 1982 season saw the Cowboys finish with a 6-3 record and a #2 playoff seed out of 8 total playoff teams. They again made it to the NFC Championship game but lost to the Redskins 31-17 (White was injured late in the 2nd quarter and was replaced by Gary Hogeboom). Washington went on to beat Miami 27-17 in Super Bowl XVII.
Technically, Danny White could have immortalized himself by getting the Cowboys to 3 straight Super Bowls and potentially could have won at least one or two. Instead, he will always be remembered as a really talented QB who just couldn’t get the job done. But, is the Romo comparison with White fair? Let’s review their stats.
|3rd Rnd, 1974
|’76 – ’88
|’03 – ’12
|9 Years (To Date)
|*White signed with the Memphis Southmen out of college and played 2 years in the now defunct WFL
|Romo’s 1st season as a starter was in 2006
|N/A (Age 33 Today)
|Career Passing Yds
Reviewing these facts and figures, I’m not sure the comparison is fair to either one of them. Statistically, Romo has already eclipsed Danny White’s numbers and his career isn’t done. Granted it is a different, much more passing focused league today than it was in the “run to set up the pass” era White played in. The one statistic where White clearly exceeds Romo is playoff games and wins. Danny White may have lost 3 straight NFC Championship games but he at least got them into those games with playoff victories. Romo has one playoff win – and that was in the wild card round. He and his Cowboy teams haven’t even sniffed a Super Bowl (yet).
The simple truth is that this comparison will persist as long as Romo continues to implode in the glare of big games. Until he can remove the “can’t win the big one” monkey off his back like he did the cyst this off season, he will be forever linked to Danny White. Danny can’t do anything now about his legacy. But, Romo still has a chance to make everyone forget the failures. In my opinion, if he gets a little help from his offensive line and his running game, he can take this team to the promised land. He has the talent and can overcome the big game failures. Let’s hope it happens in 2013. Go Cowboys!