I grew up in suburban Dallas, Texas. My dad never pushed sports on me all that much, and we hardly bonded over football or baseball. In fact, I fell in love with both of those games through fantasy sports. I started playing fantasy football in 2009, and that was the year I fell in love with the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys, and Tony Romo.
Keep in mind, this was the year the Cowboys went 11-5 and won the NFC East, so call me a bandwagon all you want. I was 10, and lived 30 minutes away from Dallas, so it’s hard to consider myself a bandwagon.
Since that day, I have lived and breathed Dallas Cowboys. I’ve read countless magazine articles, newspaper clippings, online articles, and books detailing the current Cowboys as well as players of the past. One thing I noticed, specifically online, was the mass amount of hatred poured towards the starting quarterback, Tony Romo.
He was constantly called a choker, injury-prone, and fans all over the NFL, including in Dallas, called for his trading or immediate release.
I never understood it. From what pre-pubescent me could see, Tony was about the only good thing about the Dallas Cowboys. Inconsistent defenses, running backs that ran themselves out of the league, diva wide-receivers, and offensive lines that allowed Romo to become “injury-prone” dragged down the legacy of an otherwise outstanding quarterback.
I struggled through three years of 8-8, including a game where Tony played head-to-head against one of the greatest QBs ever, and put up 48 points against a team one year away from a Super Bowl run. I also witnessed Tony lead the Cowboys to overcome the Saints and hand them their first loss of the 2009 season, before they would go on to win the Super Bowl. Those three years, Romo pulled up a team with the talent level low enough to earn them the first overall draft pick, to a team that was in the running for the divisional title until 0:00 in Week 17.
I watched Tony cement himself as one of the greatest signal callers in the NFL in 2014, coming in second in the MVP race, and leading the Cowboys to a 12-4 record before being humiliated by awful reffing up in Wisconsin. Also, let’s not forget that a certain running back who is no longer part of the team fumbled the ball on a momentum-halting drive, that led to Green Bay taking the lead. Anyway, I digress.
I watched the greatest football game of my life, when Tony Romo illustrated a beautiful comeback in Week 1 without one of the league’s best wide receivers. The second that Jason Witten caught that touchdown pass, there were tears of joy running down my face. That was when I realized that Romo might be getting the ring he always deserved. The next week, there were different tears on my face, as Romo lied on the ground in agony after breaking his collarbone. I watched three different quarterbacks struggle behind the offensive line everyone gave credit to instead of Romo. “Just wait till 2016”, I kept telling myself, “that’ll be Tony’s year.”
In 2016, however, Cliff Avril dealt Romo an injury that cemented in my mind that he would never be the quarterback for my Cowboys again. After rookie Dak Prescott came to instant stardom, and the QB controversy lasted all season, Romo came in and scored a touchdown in a meaningless game in Week 17 of the 2016 season. Meaningless for the playoffs, but that touchdown brought even more tears to my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dak, and I very much look forward to what he has the offer in terms of the future, but in the words of Terrell Owens: “that’s my quarterback.”
Now, 8 years since I fell in love with the abilities of Tony Romo, his time with Dallas is up. People who used to curse his name pretend to have always loved him. Fans everywhere want to sign him, after spending 10 years calling him a choker and a terrible QB. Romo owns every major QB stat in Cowboys history, as well as the most game winning drives and fourth quarter comebacks by a QB since 2006 IN THE NFL. How’s that for a choker, huh? Romo also holds the second highest QBR of all time, behind Aaron Rodgers.
Rather than saying “I can’t wait to see what Romo will do next season,” the talk is “will we cut him? Who will we trade him to? How much money will we save?” It seems such a massive amount of disrespect for a man who literally broke his back to keep the Cowboys as America’s Team.
It’s not the story book ending anyone wanted, especially Tony. Romo might not be wearing a Cowboys jersey next season, but I’ll be damned if any slander heads his way. Growing up, Danny White was my mom’s quarterback, Roger Staubach was my dad’s, and as long as I live and breathe, Antonio Ramiro Romo will be my quarterback.