In Dallas there is a culture of sports fanship that is not equated in many other parts of the world. Dallas flat out loves their professional sports. Ticket sales almost always sell out across the board, jerseys are common attire amongst its residents, and let’s be honest, Dallas owners can flat out promote. If you’ve ever been to the Big D, you’re reminded quickly who the “Belle of the Ball” is so to speak as far as these beloved teams are concerned—the Cowboys.
The Stars have a storied history in the NHL, the Mavericks have had a recent championship in the NBA, hell even the Rangers have had a solid reputation in the MLB, but it’s not even up for discussion that the Cowboys run the show and t’s not even close. This fame they have locally is shared nationally being that Dallas remains tops in general sales revenue, television revenue, as well as Internet traffic. Love them or hate them you care about the Cowboys.
Many laud at the moniker “America’s Team,” which was first coined in the late ‘70’s by Bob Ryan, but in same breath cannot help but have a strong opinion about the Cowboys whether its good or bad. The polarizing nature of the team makes them very much live up to this name although their actual football accomplishments since the glory days of the late 90’s quite frankly has been utterly forgettable. 8-8 seems to be status quo although Jerry Jones promises the world each and every year.
Super Bowl this… building a new that… Jerry will always be Jerry.
Now close your eyes for a second… Imagine being the leader of this grandiose hype machine that is the Dallas Cowboys. Imagine your every move being over scrutinized, judged and discussed the world over. Imagine being so disliked that fans that don’t even know the game have a strong opinion about you regardless if you do well or not. Open your eyes, you’re Antonio “Tony” Ramiro Romo.
Humble beginnings: Romo’s entire career has been polarized beyond comprehension and the kicker is, he wasn’t even drafted, in fact all 32 teams passed on him in the 2003 NFL Draft. Romo had an impressive skillset, and great size at 6’2’’ 230, but many weren’t sold on his dominance at NCAA FCS Affiliate (formerly 1-AA) Eastern Illinois University. Romo flew under the radar as an undrafted signee for the Cowboys and stayed on cruise control under a gang of less than stellar starting quarterbacks. Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson and Drew Bledsoe & Vinny Testaverde all had their shot to lead before Tony.
2006 gave Romo his opportunity that he wouldn’t relinquish to this day.
As a starter, Romo had been immediately crowned “The Golden Boy” of the Dallas Cowboys and has statistically been the best quarterback the franchise has seen since one Troy Aikman. You may know the guy.
Romo in a nutshell: He’s seen the Pro Bowl three times, been the NFC passing yards leader and touchdown leader, had an impressive 95.8 lifetime passer rating percentage, but the one thing that has eluded him his entire career is tangible success. When you think of the elite quarterbacks in NFL history past and present, they have a defining moment to accentuate their accomplishments, and Romo has what exactly? A lone playoff victory in 2009? A heap of comeback regular season wins? You see where I’m going with this… Romo, despite his tremendous ability and stat-based success, he’ll will forever be remembered for his negative defining moments.
The harsh reality: I challenge anyone, go and ask a casual football fan what he or she thinks of Romo and it’s almost an absolute certainty the word INTERCEPTION or choke will arise. Albeit unfair to a degree, is it really farfetched? We live in a tech savvy society that can provide visual access to the patrons like never before, and lets just face it… Romo has plenty of film that supports this belief. The botched field goal hold against the Seahawks in the playoffs will forever haunt him.
The Good Ole Days: 2009 was Romo’s step in the direction of elite company. 26 touchdowns 9 interceptions, a 13-3 regular season record and most importantly a win in the postseason, (a feat that hadn’t been achieved since the last Super Bowl in 1996) put Romo shoulder to shoulder with the elite. In the city of Dallas at least, Romo was a godlike figure. For an undrafted quarterback who had to pay his dudes for three seasons at third string, he’s earned every bit of his adulation.
Enter the mediocrity Era: Problem is since that moment in the sun so to speak; Romo hasn’t done much to lead his team past the dreaded litmus test of mediocrity… an 8-8 record and a first round playoff exit to be exact. Last year was no different, as Romo experienced the highs and lows throwing an impressive 31 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions, but having signature interceptions in clutch situations (namely the 2 he threw in the 51-48 shootout loss against Denver). To his credit his defense was out right deplorable giving up a league worst 415 yards per contest. The reality of it all is when you play the position of quarterback in the National Football League, namely the Dallas Cowboys, expectation can supersede fairness if the job isn’t getting done.
This year Tony Romo enters his 12th season at the well-traveled age of 34 and coming off a season ending back-injury. This off-season, talks of Johnny Manziel being drafted amongst other young prospects to be his predecessor swirled around the media waves and certainly made their way to the ears of Romo. It’s not easy to be the starting quarterback of America’s Team. The team doctors say he’s fine, Jerry Jones say he’s fine, so time will tell if Romo can finally breakthrough and lead his team past the habitual trend of mediocrity in the Big D. One thing is for sure, America will be watching and his three interceptions week one against the 49ers didn’t do him any favors in the eyes of public opinion.