What this world needs is another opinion on Tony Romo. I'm certain of it.
Please bear with me and resist the urge to eye-roll. Throwing my hat in the contributors ring around here should call for an initiation of sorts, complete with a formal declaration, as in Name, Rank, Serial Number, and Stated Position on Tony Romo. I know and accept that what I say here will be held against me forever more, and might even prompt an audit.
The name's Erod, scrub captain, BR549, and Lord help me, I love the knucklehead at QB. Can't help it, and the intervention and therapy you prescribe won't work, so stuff it.
So let's get to it without trudging the tired and beaten paths more than minimally necessary. Romo is synonymous with politics, religion, chickens, eggs, and Gordon/Earnhardt. Hadn't been an original thought on this subject since TO had money and LeBron was a Cavalier. I mean, the first time he was a Cavalier.
Simply put, never has a player this good been this summarily and unfairly dismissed in the NFL, ever. If you can name another, please share.
Before I make my case for Romo, know this about me. I detest statistical arguments. Despise them to their core. Why? Because they're too often used definitively to cloud the truth. Too many think stats win arguments, when they do exactly the opposite. We have an inherent skill to create them from thin air, and ambiguously skew them as our agenda requires. Reality is, you can't quantify players in team sports with just mathematics. It ain't golf.
Football is more art than science, so to truly know and understand a player, it takes time and thought and prolonged observation, something not everyone can or will devote to a single player. I can't say from here that I fully understand or appreciate Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler or Phillip Rivers either. I don't drench myself in the day-to-day with those teams to have more than a fan's impression from afar. However, I still take care not to lean on stats for any of them, and base my impressions from my mind's eye, with room to change my mind.
Jeff George had kickass stats. So did Ernest Givens and Herman Moore. Troy Aikman and Drew Pearson and Lynn Swann didn't. Peyton Manning has them; Russell Wilson doesn't. Numbers reflect circumstance, style, and approach. Imagine if Emmitt had been drafted by Kansas City, or Jerry Rice was catching passes from Steve Pelluer.
Hey, let's be honest, Romo has great stats. A bajillion yards passing and enough TD passes to make Roger and Troy blush. “Greatest QB rating in the 4th quarter of all time” is the coolest one to say out loud. Whatever, I don't care about Romo's numbers because his case doesn't depend on them. All I've had to do is open my eyes and my mind, watch the games, and ask myself….
Where would this team have been the past five years without him?
Pardon the shudder, that's scary to ponder. Romo has danced the Charleston on a high-wire act throughout this ongoing circus since Tuna left town, suffering through Wade, and now waiting on the rebuilding hopes of Garrett, McClay, and now Linehan. I so wish Parcells was 10 years younger and could have raised him properly in this Beatles-band spotlight of Dallas.
Way back when, Romo inherited a pretty salty team, but he was an NFL quarterback in training at the time, relying on Jedi mind tricks and a boyish grin to get him from one huddle to the next. As the newness wore off and his game sharpened, that same roster began to age and falter almost overnight. His arrow pointed opposite the team's, without enough fruitful draft picks and cap room to catch the fall.
The offensive line became tattered and torn, and the defense regressed into historic incompetence. There were still shiny, skilled objects to distract the masses, which allowed Romo to amaze us all with sleight-of-hand and Houdini acts along the way. Because of him, this 4-12 roster got more attention than it deserved.
Garrett knows this. So do coaches and quarterbacks past and present, who often seem to be the only public voices to support Romo. Even the likes of Jaworski and Simms and well-intentioned RG3 have made a distinct point to say to him and us, “You're a damn fine quarterback, don't listen to what everybody says about you.”
What grits my teeth is that so many Cowboys fans don't get this. They go full goose-step and adopt the opinions of ne'er-do-wells hundreds of miles away, instead of trusting their eyes and their instinct. It's easier and less exhausting to just chime in with the thoughtless hordes.
No, I haven't forgotten the bobbled snap. (How many starting QBs hold on field goals?) I watched the failure of 13-3 end against the Giants. (If Crayton doesn't drop the ball.) I saw the 2011 finale in New York. (Romo played with a sprained throwing hand), the 2012 pick against Washington, (the defense gave up nearly 300 yards rushing before Romo's awful pass), and Orton against the Eagles (if Romo played that day, they win easily).
And yes, I've seen the late-game interceptions that transfix the zombies. Games, mind you, that Dallas had no business being competitive in without Romo. Brady and Manning throw late interceptions, too, but their defenses put out the fire, so nobody remembers. Other quarterbacks do – or don't – throw picks late, but they're down three touchdowns, so nobody cares. I share your frustration with Romo at times, understand, but balanced in context.
Just how perfect does he have to be for this team to win?
Forgotten too often are the numerous games, more than most any QB, that Romo has taken the Cowboys down the field to win a game late, too. Most of those included flaccid rushing efforts and a Cowboy defense giving up yards and points in droves. So many losses that should have been, but weren't, thanks to No. 9. So many drubbings made competitive.
Perhaps the pinnacle of my pissed-off-edness came last year against Denver. We ALL saw Romo outplay Peyton, stem to stern, on every level, before stepping on his lineman's foot and throwing a plucked duck that led to a OT field goal. Romo was brilliant beyond brilliant, but couldn't overcome his French-ified defense that day, and he finally made a mistake. Nanoseconds after the game, the simpletons and dolts spilled from every crevice and hung Romo in effigy. It explains so much about so many things, I suppose, especially beyond football.
I contend that if Romo was the QB in Seattle, he'd be going for his third straight championship this season. Same for San Fran. He's markedly better than both Wilson and Kaepernick, though his circumstances aren't. Jerry's past failings ladle over this team and haunt Romo's legacy.
If there's football justice – and there often isn't – good health will allow Romo a real shot or two with a worthy roster. It's getting better, but it might oughta hurry it up. Bad backs are onerous injuries.
When Romo is no mo', it'll finally sink in among us all. I hope it doesn't come to that, but I know this. We're going to miss him when he's gone.