I love Tony Romo, but the news this week wasn’t that hard for me. I predicted that his career was over about a year ago and while I held out hope that he’d got his starting job back last year longer than most, I am glad he made the decision he did.
I still think Dak Prescott will never be as good a quarterback as Tony, and I also think that is in no way a knock on Dak. Most quarterbacks, even really good ones, will never be as good as Tony was.
There is, however, only one stat that matters. In roughly 3 of his last 4 games – final series for Dallas aside, Tony Romo broke something in his back. He broke his collarbone against the Eagles in early 2015, came back to beat the Miami Dolphins, then broke his collarbone again, the next game, against the Panthers. In early 2016, he broke his back in a preseason game against the Seahawks.
He got to play a series in the last game of last season, against the Eagles, and led a six play, 81-yard drive for a TD, the only one the Boys would score that day. He proved he could still sling it, as long as nobody hit him, and I’m sure he could have gotten paid by somebody because of it.
I’m glad he didn’t. I really am. It would have been great if Tony had gotten the chance to lead this team, the most talented team of his era, to victory, but I could never think about it without also thinking about how I’d feel about spending a week excited about Tony getting another chance, only to watch him break a rib, or a collarbone, or a vertebra.
Even if we didn’t know so much about what football does to bodies (and brains) these days, it wasn’t worth it. He’s old for a football player, but young for a human, and he’s got young kids. Go home and play with them with a body that still works a bit.
About Romo, I’ll always feel that the story should have been different. I don’t need him to have won a Super Bowl, though that would be nice, what I need and won’t get is for a different legacy. Tony came out of nowhere – as an undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois University, way more from nowhere then the legendarily from nowhere Tom Brady – to be a great QB.
He made one big mistake early in his career, trying to run in a busted field goal play in the playoffs, and made just a few more trying to will a bad team to more wins.
He’s one of the most clutch players who ever lived, by any statistical measure, and he was also, whatever people say, phenomenally careful with the ball. From 2009 to 2014, the last years he got to play a full season, Romo threw 10 or fewer INTs in five out of six years. That he’ll be remembered, by some, as a choker, is sad and wrong.
But, I don’t need him to go out there and get hurt again so I can feel better about what he did. And, I don’t need to see him in another color uniform. I’ll always remember his Cowboys days with a lot of fondness. Good for him, for making the right choice.
Do you agree that Romo made the right call? Share your thoughts with Andrew on Twitter @andytobo.