When he was at Eastern Illinois University, Tony Romo was a monster of a Quarterback. He led the Panthers football team for three years and ended up throwing 892 times with 560 completions for a 62.8 completion percentage which totaled 7,816 yards. He would add 82 touchdowns and 34 interceptions while averaging 236.8 yards passing per game and a 159.1 QB passer rating.
His dominance in college led him to three All-Ohio Valley Conference teams, three Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year awards, and being named an All-American three times. In 2002, he would end up winning the Walter Payton Award. Seven years later, in 2009, Eastern Illinois retired Tony Romo's jersey, the first time the school had ever retired anyone's number, while also inducting him into the EIU's Hall of Fame.
However, he would go undrafted in the 2003 NFL Draft and wind up settling for an undrafted rookie free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys as their third string QB heading into the 2003 season. After a few moments of good fortune, Tony Romo would end up finally getting his shot at starting for the Cowboys in 2006. He would end up starting 10 games that season, going 6-4. It would be the beginning of his career as a Dallas Cowboy. The following season was the infamous 13-3 year which ended with a shocking playoff loss to the New York Giants in the Divisional round of the 2007 playoffs.
From that moment on, Tony Romo turned into a superstar to the Dallas Cowboys fans while the rest of the world treated him as a joke. At some point in time, the NFL allowed this man to be perceived in both ways and that caused a split between fans which would last for the rest of his career.
Let's take a look at the 15 things the NFL wants you to forget about Tony Romo.
15 Dating Jessica Simpson During His Early Playing Days
It became very evident that the moment Tony Romo became the Dallas Cowboys starting QB that he was going to become a superstar. So when he started to date some of the sexiest women on the planet, it came across as the rich getting richer. This man had it all and was even getting himself involved with women that had the reputation for being super sexy but not very intelligent. No offense to Jessica Simpson but does anyone remember that entire "Chicken of the Sea" debacle from her early MTV days?
The relationship he had with Jessica Simpson became a problem when the playoffs rolled around and she showed up supporting her man while wearing his jersey lined in pink. This appearance happened weeks after rumors were swirling about his involvement with her. The fans were not happy because the moment he started seeing her, his numbers took a noticeable decline. He allowed her to distract him from what is most important, being the leader of the most famous team in the NFL.
14 Pursuing Golf as a Second Career
As if Tony Romo was not already hated enough, he decided to pursue another passion of his, playing professional golf. The one thing that turns men against other men is jealousy and if there is one man in Dallas that has made more men jealous about his life, it is Tony Romo.
Lucky for him, it was early on in his career. Back in 2005, he attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open but not before making it interesting. He would attempt again in 2008 during the Byron Nelson tournament. The entire time he was out there playing gold, and having a great time, the fans were upset and angry over the entire performance. He still had yet to win anything in Dallas, or even prove his value, so why was he out there showcasing his golfing abilities?
They saw a man determined to succeed in the PGA Tour while failing to lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl at least. What was he spending all of his time on during the postseason?
13 Dak Prescott or Tony Romo?
For the past 50 seasons, when there is a clear cut starter at the QB position, there is rarely a dramatic debate over what would happen if he were to get injured and miss the entire season. The answer is obvious, just ask the New England Patriots when Tom Brady missed the entire 2008 season following an ACL tear in Week 1. He returned in 2009 and started 112 consecutive games for the Patriots while his replacement in 2008, Matt Cassel, wound up moving on to bigger and better things. The debate about who was going to be the starter in 2009 never even happened.
However, in Dallas, when Tony Romo went down in preseason of the 2016 season, he was replaced by Dak Prescott, a rookie, who then did an amazing job leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record while throwing for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions with a 67.8 completion percentage. Besides putting up one of the most impressive rookie campaigns from a QB in Dallas Cowboys history, he won over the hearts of the fans too.
So when the season ended and the Cowboys were left out of the Super Bowl following a playoff loss at home, Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett did just about everything they could possibly do to avoid reporters who asked them directly about whether or not Tony Romo was going to take back his starting role once he returned from injury.
The longer it went, the more disrespected Tony Romo felt until he eventually decided to retire. He did not have to become the starter but he deserved a chance to be traded or released if the Cowboys had no intentions on using him again.
12 Playoff Struggles
After Tony Romo landed the starting gig at QB with the Dallas Cowboys, he became more than just a talented young QB, he became the leader of America's Team. That alone brought with it a ton of pressure to produce and win games quickly because the fans in Dallas, and the owner, hate losing.
So when Tony Romo turned the Dallas Cowboys into a Wild Card team in 2006, in his first full year as the starting QB, expectations flew through the roof and far into the atmospheric abyss of space. However, all of the pressure and all of the expectations landed flat the moment Tony Romo botched a potential game-winning field goal as the holder, the downfall in Dallas started. It began with the fans and critics and ended with another debacle in the following season's Divisional round in which he threw an interception in the end zone late in the game, sealing their fate once more.
The reputation of Tony Romo being the reason for all of the issues with the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs was tarnished and no one ever helped to change that persona. Once again he was left for dead and all alone to handle the millions of haters from all across the globe.
11 Broadcasting Experience
If the NFL wanted anyone to be taken seriously, then they would require all game commentators and analysts that broadcast their games to get approval from the league first. Sure, it sounds a bit sketchy that the NFL would tell CBS, NBC, and FOX how to run their business but they are already controlling them by scheduling games on their networks anyways, so what is wrong with having a say-so in the hiring of analysts.
This is especially true for Tony Romo, who has gone from starting QB of the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 to a retired former player replacing an icon in the booth, Phil Simms, with the CBS "A" team of broadcasting for NFL games. He will join Jim Nance and Tracy Wolfson to create another dynamic broadcasting trio starring a former Dallas Cowboys QB (Troy Aikman, of course, being the FOX Sports lead analyst for their "A" team).
But what experience does he have in the booth? How can a guy that has been hated by most of the country throughout his entire career, and half of his own fans, be successful at something that requires him to travel to each of the cities in the league, discussing and analyzing the game as if he is the biggest expert in the field? The NFL allowed this to happen by screwing up and letting him retire, plain and simple.
10 Injury Struggles Defining Him
After spending much of 2010 on the sidelines, Tony Romo's career turned from exploding to destruction. He found himself playing in just six games that year, going 1-5 in the process. With the various other tiny injuries and games he would miss, he only ended up missing two games in the following four seasons. Yet somehow, he was known for missing most of 2010 and almost all of 2015.
In 2015 and 2016, he played in a grand total of five games, going 3-1 and throwing for 913 yards, six touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Although that would be the end of his career, it was by no means the way he deserved to be defined. But once again, he was generalized as a QB that missed most of his career to injury when, in fact, it was far from the truth. He played in 156 games, starting in 127, and missing just 42 games over ten years of being the starter. Sure, it might be more missed games than a normal starting QB in the NFL but it remains a fact that he was never as much of a joke as he became for missing so many games from injury.
9 Tony Romo's Career Became A Joke
After the honeymoon ended, Tony Romo's career ended up becoming more of a punchline for Dallas Cowboy fans, especially the ones tired of hearing about how good this team was all year long only to find themselves sitting at home watching another NFC team play for the coveted Vince Lombardi award in the Super Bowl. And who can blame them?
Just as he got popular among the NFL fans around the league, in 2007, he decides to take off in mid-December with his famous superstar girlfriend Jessica Simpson, along with fellow teammates Bobby Carpenter and Jason Witten, to Cabo San Lucas, at a resort, in the middle of the season. It was already bad enough that she showed up at a game and apparently jinxed the team by causing them to lose to the Eagles and eventually the Giants. It was at that very moment people started to treat Tony Romo as a joke, regardless of his talent on the field.
The NFL had a chance to remedy the situation but failed to take a side or get involved leaving the fans to decide his fate.
8 Hollywood Dating History Continues with Carrie Underwood
Just before Tony Romo started appearing on the town with Jessica Simpson, he spent several nights with the beautiful, and lovely country music star, Carrie Underwood. He found himself struggling while dating her and the fans started to revolt against the entire relationship, just like the fans did when he started losing while dating Jessica Simpson.
However, for mostly the publicity side of things, both camps denied any relationship was ever official. It was nothing more than a friendship apparently, and it ended just like friendships do, with one ex hurt and upset about the other one.
This thing he had with Carrie Underwood was a testament to where the NFL was going. It was more about being the king of Hollywood than being an superstar. It felt as though he was being portrayed as a man more worried about his celebrity status than the Cowboys winning. Perception became reality and the NFL, as usual, simply decided to stay away for the time being.
7 Feeling Sad for Tony Romo
It is hard to feel bad for a guy that has literally gotten everything in his life. Tony Romo was an All-American QB star recruit that went to a small college called Eastern Illinois. After he broke all the school records and earned countless collegiate honors playing football, he would go on to become the Dallas Cowboys third string QB in the NFL.
After just two years of waiting, his big moment happened following a series of unfortunate events where the team's two other QB's found themselves falling on bad times. Once he got his big shot, he never let it go. He turned himself into a man who every man wanted to become. He dated celebrities and musicians, traveled to Mexico on mini-vacations during the regular season, earned millions of dollars, and was treated as royalty around the NFL. He was literally a man that was loved by millions of fans while also being hated by just as many.
So when the league and the fans turned on him, there was no room for pity and no room for sadness. How can anyone feel bad or a man that had it all?
6 Late Game Struggles Becoming Part of His Reputation
Besides all of the nonsense with his injury problems, the key problem facing Tony Romo's career was how often he struggled during the clutch moments, late in the games, when they needed him the most. Or, at least, that was the reputation he somehow created for himself following two playoff game appearances in which he choked and ended up costing the Cowboys their big shot at postseason bliss.
But two games should not make a man, or a reputation. What about the 78 career wins, 34,183 passing yards, 248 touchdowns, 117 interceptions, and a career QB rating of 97.1? Whatever happened to looking at Tony Romo's entire career instead of simply studying the two moments he had during the postseason?
5 Tony Romo Deserved Support, Not Isolation
The Tony Romo saga begins and ends with his isolation by the rest of the league. He has the charisma of a Presidential candidate while being blessed with great looks, an incredible throwing arm, and a laundry list of former girlfriends that reads like the Country Music Awards Hottest New Female Artist category. He is also great at basketball, baseball, and is quite talented as a golfer. Did we forget to mention he is married to a former Miss America, Candace Crawford?
Yet, when things got bad in Dallas, critics turned against him, quickly. His fan support was great when the Cowboys were winning and horrible the moment they lost. He took the sharp end of the knife to his face, side, and back at all times and got right back up with a smile on his face as if to say, "Nice try but that is nothing more than a scratch."
So why did he end up in isolation? The NFL could have turned him into their baby like they did with Matt Ryan last year, or Peyton Manning and Drew Brees for their entire career? What was it about Tony Romo that caused the NFL to act as if they could never fully support him as an elite passer?
4 Playing for the Dallas Mavericks
Being a local sports hero is one thing, but becoming a celebrity sports star worthy of earning playing time in an entirely different professional sport, is another.
The Dallas Mavericks and Mark Cuban used Tony Romo as a publicity stunt to give him a proper send-off that the Dallas Cowboys failed to do so when his career ended in Dallas. The entire event was a sad attempt at humor coming from Mark Cuban and his NBA franchise simply because Jerry Jones did not allow the Cowboys to honor the man that deserved every piece of respect and dignity as he headed off into the sunset.
After playing in 156 games, starting in 127 of them and winning 78 of them, all with the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo's career still ended without a single goodbye or even the slightest of send-offs. Instead, the Dallas Mavericks decided to step in and give him the proper respect he deserved by allowing him to become a member of the Mavericks for a day.
The fact that the NFL allowed the NBA to step in and help Tony Romo get the proper send-off is simply the wrong decision made by the Commissioner.
3 Becoming the Scapegoat for America's Team
At what point did the Dallas Cowboys turn into America's Team? It was at that very moment that they turned into something bigger than themselves. They turned into a team that would be admired by people from all over the country, not just the fans in Dallas. But with such a giant leap in movement, the Dallas Cowboys also needed to have scapegoats that all of those millions of fans can blame when things go wrong.
One of the best examples is the two playoff games in 2006 and 2007. Yes, it was Tony Romo who dropped the snap on the game-winning field goal that would have put the Cowboys up by two with just a little over a minute left in the game. However, everyone forgets how he led them into a 8-8 season, earning a Wild Card spot, and even threw for 189 yards and one touchdown on 17 of 29 passing. Why not blame the Cowboys secondary, who gave up 240 yards and two touchdowns to Matt Hasselbeck? Or what about the two fumbles from Jason Witten and Terry Glenn?
In 2007, he once again became the scapegoat as the Cowboys lost to the New York Giants after an interception in the end zone sealed their fate. No one recalls the 201 yards he had passing or the earlier lead the Cowboys built behind their offense only to watch the defense give up a few touchdowns leading to a 21-17 loss.
At what point does Tony Romo go from being a beloved character in Dallas to a loser that costed them the Super Bowl?
2 Jerry Jones Abusing His Career
When Troy Aikman was the QB of the Dallas Cowboys, he lead them to three Super Bowl titles in four seasons. He played along side a multitude of Hall of Famers and yet was one of the most beloved characters to ever play for the Dallas Cowboys. That might have had something to do with Jerry Jones not stepping in and becoming a distraction for the team. His main focus was the head coach Jimmy Johnson, not Troy Aikman, and it showed.
Yet, when Tony Romo became the unquestioned superstar in Dallas, Jerry Jones continued to stick his nose in the middle of everything, leading to confusion of how the public should depict him.
There should never be any confusion about the QB situation for a NFL club that is coming from the owner's box. The owner's job is to make sure his team runs effectively and that he hires the right people in the right positions to carry them too.
However, any time Tony Romo got into a sticky situation, Jerry Jones stepped in and made things even more confusing leading to a perception of a house that is in shambles because even the owner does not fully support Tony Romo. He never has.
1 Allowing the Fans to Hate Him
It sounds almost ironic to hear that the NFL has control over what their fans believe and what they feel but it is sadly the truth. Why do you think Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers go about their seasons dominating the NFL each year and yet continue to be admired and loved by everyone in the world, even the fans of their most hated rivals?
It's because the NFL can shape them a certain way and that is the way the fans see them.
Tony Romo was handed a golden chance to become the leader of America's Team and yet somehow was turned into a love/hate relationship with the fans. He was treated as an outsider mostly and never once had fans wondering why the NFL never seemed to get on his side. Even with multiple injuries, Tony Romo found himself constantly having to defend himself, which was not easy for a man that literally had everything, and that made him more of an enemy than a sympathetic figure.
If Roger Goodell truly wanted to make Tony Romo an icon, he could have stepped in and done so. All it took was one phone call to Jerry Jones.
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