Tony Romo: The Harsh Reality I Had To Come To Terms With ⋆
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Tony Romo: The Harsh Reality I Had To Come To Terms With

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Tony Romo: The Harsh Reality I Had To Come To Terms With

How long did it take you to finally appreciate Tony Romo?

Did it happen quickly? Did you immediately fall in love when he entered that game in 2006? Was it after his first playoff victory in 2009? Was it last year when he played as efficient as it gets leading the Cowboys to a 12-4 record with a playoff victory? Or was it this season, when you realized what life is like without number nine under center?

You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.

One of the most important sayings in this world holds true when it comes to Tony Romo.

The saddest part…the end may be sooner than any of us want to think it is…myself included.

While I have firmly believed the Cowboys should address the quarterback position via the draft for the past couple years, I have always thought it would be so that Romo could train the young player and we could have a seamless transition in a couple of years.

I always childishly thought that Romo would be my quarterback forever. As a 23-year-old Dallas Cowboys fan, Romo was the first great Cowboys quarterback I ever got to watch. I have several different versions of his jersey. I have his FatHead on the wall of my basement, with a signed picture of him accompanying it. My girlfriend painted a picture of Romo and Dez and that hangs in my bedroom. Tony Romo is that connection that I have from childhood to adulthood. Someone that will always be very important to me.

Cowboys Blog - Tony Romo: The Harsh Reality I Had To Come To Terms With 5

Framed painting of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant hangs in my bedroom

With that being said, it really hit a nerve this weekend when I heard about how the hit Romo took in week one against the Giants brought him back to where he was in week one against the 49ers in 2014.

Tony Romo played a large portion of 2014 and with an entire offseason, I thought we would see a Tony Romo as healthy as he’s been in some time. The back should have been stronger. The aches and pains you get from playing such a physical sport your entire life should be lessened…and BOOM…one hit sends Romo right back to where he was.

Then there is the obvious, the fractured collarbone which he re-fractured just one week after returning.

All of this put together made me sit and think about this. One hit sent Romo back to where he was in week one of 2014? Someone so sparingly hit is getting hurt this often? Romo needed a day off on the Wednesday before his return against the Dolphins after sitting for all those weeks? What is really going on with my quarterback?

The reality is…Tony Romo is not what he used to be physically. I think we all tend to remove ourselves from the human aspect of pro sports and celebrities in general. Think about it, you play one game of football and I bet you wake up the next day as sore as could be. Yes, that is probably because you are doing something that your muscles aren’t used to. So then imagine playing an entire season of football, or any sport for that matter. I bet you wake up everyday with some sort of ache or pain. You get that numb feeling in your shoulder or your knee, etc. where you just feel the fatigue.

Picture that…but magnify it across twenty or so years. Think back to the Tony Romo playing football and basketball in high school. Then the same guy playing in college…and so on and so forth. Think about all the hits he has taken. Think about all the days and nights he has felt sore or achy. Take into account the amount of serious injuries Romo has sustained over his career. It all starts to add up.

Cowboys Blog - Tony Romo: The Harsh Reality I Had To Come To Terms With 3

Tony Romo’s FatHead hangs in my basement next to a signed photo

Yes, there have been plenty of players who have played much later into their careers. Look at Tom Brady still dominating at 38 and Peyton Manning finally starting to regress at 39. These are nice stories, but every player is different and father-time chooses to strike people at different times.

Tony Romo plays a much different type of football than Manning or Brady. Romo has made a living off of being athletic. No, he’s not Russell Wilson or Michael Vick, but Romo would scramble, avoid pressure, take heavy hits…all while making big plays.

Cowboys Blog - Tony Romo: The Harsh Reality I Had To Come To Terms With 1

Tony Romo puts the “Romo Spin” on JJ Watt

We know that Romo has taken Toradol a ton of times over his career.

Toradol is a heavy-duty anti-inflammatory drug. It reduces hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body. Toradol is a very controversial drug in sports today as the long-term effects of the drug are unknown.

His performance last season against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thanksgiving can be attributed to lack of Toradol in some minds. With the quick turnaround, it would be unhealthy for Romo to have taken another dose of Toradol for that Thanksgiving game.

Cowboys Blog - Tony Romo: The Harsh Reality I Had To Come To Terms With

The controversial anti-inflammatory drug, Toradol

This made me think about Romo’s performances on Thanksgiving as of late. In 2014, Romo was 18-29 for 199 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs, good for a 53.7 QB rating. In 2015, Romo was 11-21 for 106 yards with 0 TDs and 3 INTs, good for a 27.2 QB rating.

Since injuring his back, Romo has chucked up two of his worst career performances ever, on Thanksgiving. I wonder what we can expect from Romo on a short week in the future. Can both of these instances be attributed to lack of Toradol? Are the aches and pains from football so extreme that Romo can’t play in a short week? If Romo needs to sit every Wednesday practice, and we see what he does when forced to play on a Thursday, what does that tell you?

Then there is this which I found in a New York Times article about Toradol:

“The limit I’m worried about is, does it dull the pain so much that it dulls the body part they’ve injured?” said Dr. Carla C. Keirns, a medical ethicist at Stony Brook University, adding that athletes could be prone to reinjury because the warning signs of pain are muted.

If all of that isn’t enough to cause concern for Tony Romo, he is entering his age 36 season. To expect him to come back healthy and continue to be great would be expecting too much. Can he come back and play 16 games and lead this team to a great season? Of course he can. However, you have to consider some of the things that will happen to a quarterback who is 36 years old.

rsz_ypa rsz_ints

At ages 35-36, quarterbacks see a drop off in their play. Keep in mind, we didn’t see Tony Romo play his age 35 season due to injury. We should see decreased arm strength. Will Romo be able to hit the deep ball like he did two years ago? Will he be able to throw an out route from the slot to the sideline with velocity? Will he have the same touch we expect? Will he be able to do some of the athletic pocket moves that make him so special?

More importantly, will Tony Romo be thinking about his back and shoulder when the defense is caving down on him? You can make an argument that protecting his back is why Romo has gone down like he has when injuring his collarbone. Not to mention the rib issues that he has had over his career.

I am as big a fan of Tony Romo as you will ever meet. It was hard coming to this realization. Part of me knew this was going to come, but I wanted to refuse the thought as long as I could. Unfortunately, this came quick during the 2015 season.

It is extremely important for the Dallas Cowboys to have a plan in place in case they have less of Tony Romo than they thought. I think you have Jerry Jones feeling the same way I do, and most fans do about Romo. We want to refuse the thought that we will ever see number 9 hang it up one day.

While we have that guy, it is extremely important to not only back him up, but to use the opportunity to have a young quarterback sit, watch and learn from Tony Romo. It could be a real luxury to not have to thrust someone into the fire so early. Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long and not letting your young quarterback learn and be as ready as possible. Tony Romo is as good a player to learn from on-the-field and off-the-field.

Nobody wants the day when someone other than Tony Romo is behind center. It will hurt even more if they are not prepared when that day comes.

I've been blogging about sports and music for almost eight years now. I also work in media relations for a New York sports team, so I understand the bridge between the outlets writing about a team and the team monitoring content. I hope to bring something new to Inside The Star, getting deep into draft work, breakdowns and I always come with a strong and passionate opinion. I'm very active on Twitter, so ask questions, comment on stuff, etc. and I will almost definitely respond to you in some sort of debate!

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Zac Fields

    January 14, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Great article.

    I completely understand when I see people suggest that they would hate to see Jared Goff or Paxton Lynch or Carson Wentz get drafted by the Cowboys this year. I understand that these are guys who, best-case-scenario, would add nothing to your 2016 season. I get the instant gratification mindset that goes along with drafting a cornerback, or a linebacker, or a defensive lineman. Man, even another Dez-level wide receiver in Laquon Treadwell. I get that it's a lot more fun for next year when you have a rookie at the #4 overall pick who will actually see the field.

    The reality is that we don't know how much longer Tony Romo has in this game. There is a part of me that feels like 2016 is going to be it for Romo. I hope that's not true, but if he spends another 13 weeks on the injury report, you have to wonder if Romo AND the Cowboys would agree that it's time to hang them up at that point.

    For me, if you believe the Cowboys are in agreement with you in not wanting to draft Goff, Lynch, or Wentz then you absolutely must be assuming that either Johnny Manziel or Robert Griffin III will be wearing a star next season. If Romo breaks his clavicle in Week One next year, the fans aren't going to sit through another season like 2015…. they shouldn't be expected to. The Cowboys shouldn't –and won't– plan it that way. They should feel an obligation to shore up that backup quarterback position significantly this off-season, and their recent strategy of 30+ year old veterans back there has not proven successful.

    I am 110% positive that, one way or the other, there will be a #2 quarterback in Dallas next year who gets people excited, and that guy is not currently on the roster today.

  2. Blue Star

    January 14, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    It was Last year when he minimized the stupid turnovers. I don't believe Tony Romo will be the starting QB at the end of 2016 season.

  3. Bryson Treece

    Bryson Treece

    January 14, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    It's not what most fans want to see, and if Romo gets hurt and misses significant time again next season, fans will get nasty with Garrett and Co, but take a QB high and let him learn. The best QBs in the modern Era of Football had time to learn the NFL system without the weekly pressure of starting games. Tony Romo will be an excellent teacher for Goff or Wentz next year, and possibly the year after that, too. The front office needs to be smart and accept that fans may not be happy with it next season, and do it anyway.

    Sent from the Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums app for Android. Get it at bit.ly/PigskinHub

  4. Blue Star

    January 14, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Do y'all really feel Romo would be a good teacher? I don't see it. Look at his teaching with Weeden, Cassel, McGee, and Moore. Romo improvises too much to be a teacher of the game.

  5. Bryson Treece

    Bryson Treece

    January 14, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    I do, yes. He's learned the hard way how to read defenses pre-snap and that is valuable knowledge to pass on to a younger guy. Weeden, Cassel, and Moore aren't the same as a rookie because they have experience and with the exception of Weeden in Cleveland, weren't expected to be starters when they first started. But it's not just Romo, it's also Garrett and Wade Wilson, and that combination can be a great tool.

  6. RJ Ochoa

    RJ Ochoa

    January 15, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I don't think Tony ever taught Cassel or Weeden. McGee is a great example though. Plus this time it'd be different. The message from the front office is to groom this guy. Not just, "hey here's your backup."

    Sent from my iPhone using Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums mobile app

  7. Blue Star

    January 17, 2016 at 11:31 am

    RJ Ochoa

    I don't think Tony ever taught Cassel or Weeden. McGee is a great example though. Plus this time it'd be different. The message from the front office is to groom this guy. Not just, "hey here's your backup."

    Sent from my iPhone using Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums mobile app

    You get players ready to be the guy no matter backup or future.

  8. RJ Ochoa

    RJ Ochoa

    January 18, 2016 at 2:08 am

    Right. But if we're going to blame Tony we need to blame everyone for not adequately preparing them. He's QB1, not the Quarterbacks Coach.

    Sent from my iPad using Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums mobile app

  9. cjprine

    January 18, 2016 at 4:25 am

    I think financially we need Romo to play 2 more seasons!
    The problem on taking a QB 4th overall is-it's a must hit, dead on future of your franchise-this is the direction of your franchise! There has to be 100% certainty that this QB can be the bloodline of your team! From what I've read these guys, and again just my opinion not fact–these Qbs have high upside but also come with risk!
    I feel our secondary has been garbage for a while and it doesn't look any brighter we have to invest because unless our future QB can score 30pts a game I.E Tony Romo it ain't going to matter! We manage to let Colt McCoy look like a freaking HOF legend when we play him! Maybe our secondary needs a face lift! Several losses I put in our defense-we just couldn't stop when it counted!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. cjprine

    January 18, 2016 at 4:26 am

    Where is McGee now?!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    January 18, 2016 at 9:19 am

    cjprine

    Where is McGee now?!

    Played in the CFL in 2013 and hasn't been heard from since.

  12. RJ Ochoa

    RJ Ochoa

    January 18, 2016 at 11:35 am

    @cjprine you're totally right. I've written extensively on why I don't want a QB at 4. Even IF you hit on him, you're right, you're not seeing him play for at least two seasons. So while literally every other team is getting better in the first round and taking a step forward… We're taking a step sideways. I have no problem getting a QB later who we think is valuable in the future, but not with the 4th pick.

    Sent from my iPad using Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums mobile app

  13. cjprine

    January 18, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    I have read it, and totally agree!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  14. Blue Star

    January 19, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Bryson T.

    I do, yes. He's learned the hard way how to read defenses pre-snap and that is valuable knowledge to pass on to a younger guy. Weeden, Cassel, and Moore aren't the same as a rookie because they have experience and with the exception of Weeden in Cleveland, weren't expected to be starters when they first started. But it's not just Romo, it's also Garrett and Wade Wilson, and that combination can be a great tool.

    RJ Ochoa

    Right. But if we're going to blame Tony we need to blame everyone for not adequately preparing them. He's QB1, not the Quarterbacks Coach.

    Sent from my iPad using Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums mobile app

    You are right. The Collaboration of Wade Wilson, Jason Garrett, and Tony Romo have all been on the team together since 2007. All the QB failures are a reflection on all of them. What is going to make drafting a QB with these bozos leading them to be an NFL QB. This combo has been a horrible to any QB with or without NFL experience. Weeden does good in a completely different offense more than half way through the season with no running game.

  15. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    January 19, 2016 at 7:45 am

    It hasn't been talked about much but there's been a locker room issue for a long time when it comes to the clique of Romo, Witten, Garrett, and I assume Wade Wilson as well. It first showed up in 2008 when there was a major divide between the wide receivers, led by Terrell Owens and the WR coach at the time (can't remember or find his name), and "The Clique." Then we saw it again with the relationship Jon Kitna had with Romo and Garrett. There was clearly an issue two years ago that made Kyle Orton fake a retirement to get out of his contract.

    It's obviously not so big that it's caused problems on the field or guys not to play hard, but it may speak to why we haven't seen much investment in or development from the QBs during the Romo/Garrett/Wilson era. IDK if they have too much of an "upper class" mentality and treat the rest of the QBs like crap or what, but it's hard to argue.

  16. Nick Cocchiaro

    January 19, 2016 at 7:57 am

    I don't think there is a problem with Tony Romo's ability to teach a young QB, Garrett's ability, Wilson's ability nor do I see a problem with a clique. The problem with the backup QBs as well as with the lack of development for Stephen McGee is that Tony Romo himself was developing as a passer. Over the last 2-3 years, we've seen a dramatically different Tony Romo. He learned how to read defenses and make changes on his own far more than he ever had. He learned different arm angles and ball placements. He's talked about how his placement of balls has kept him away from interceptions while giving receivers the chance to make a catch. Now we are in veteran Tony Romo mode. He has learned all there is to learn and we won't really see his game reach new levels anymore. He can now teach someone instead of spending all the time to make himself better. It's a completely different situation now than it was 2 or more years ago

  17. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    January 19, 2016 at 8:17 am

    That's a fair point, but other teams have been able to develop more than one QB at the same time. Look at how Cassel played for the Patriots back in 2008. A.J. McCarron stepped in nicely for Andy Dalton this year. Pittsburgh always has backup QBs who contribute well. Or how about Aaron Rodgers' development despite, as is well known, a contentious relationship with Brett Favre?

    Just seems like Dallas has a systemic issue, however minor, which has manifested at various points during the Romo/Garrett era.

  18. Nick Cocchiaro

    January 19, 2016 at 9:03 am

    You can also argue that all of those players (besides Cassel) are better than what we had. Cassel was terrible outside of New England. McCarron is a solid backup QB in this league and Rodgers…well he's Rodgers. Yes, you can argue plenty of teams got more out of their backups, but our scheme is more intricate in the passing game. We do a lot of anticipatory throws rather than easy throws. This is a tough offense for quarterbacks to pick up and flourish in. We also don't have a very good wide receiver core and it is now know that Dez was beat up so bad that they had to take a bunch of plays out of the playbook.

  19. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    January 19, 2016 at 9:08 am

    What about the points I raised on the WR insurrection in 2008 and the Kitna & Orton issues?

    Don't get me wrong. I love Tony! Not trying to tear him down at all. But facts are facts.

  20. cjprine

    January 20, 2016 at 12:30 am

    ncocchiaro

    You can also argue that all of those players (besides Cassel) are better than what we had. Cassel was terrible outside of New England. McCarron is a solid backup QB in this league and Rodgers…well he's Rodgers. Yes, you can argue plenty of teams got more out of their backups, but our scheme is more intricate in the passing game. We do a lot of anticipatory throws rather than easy throws. This is a tough offense for quarterbacks to pick up and flourish in. We also don't have a very good wide receiver core and it is now know that Dez was beat up so bad that they had to take a bunch of plays out of the playbook.

    I don't know if it's a system being to detailed, remember Kellen Moore played it in Detroit! Our passing game isn't really all that complex! I honestly think out WR Corp is fine!

    I think the problem was mindset; as soon Tony Romo went down, we went to game manage mode! Our offense went from a vanilla offense to non existence! When cassell was moving the ball it was a lot more free he took chances, but as soon as he threw INT he went back into protection mode! The same could be said with kellen Moore-it was like they had to stay within certain parameters!!! When you feel handcuffed- you are going over analyze and not go with instincts!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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