After a decade long career quarterbacking America’s Team, veteran quarterback Tony Romo announced his decision to move into a footballing commentary slot with CBS, on Tuesday.
The move caught many by surprise, due to the persistent rumours for weeks now that San Diego native would at least play the 2017 season, either in Houston or Denver.
Clearly, the two most decisive factors in this decision was a lack of serious interest in Romo, from Houston and Denver, and perhaps most importantly the seriously high interest that CBS had in having Romo as their number 1 ‘colour analyst’ alongside the experienced Jim Nantz covering Thursday Night Football and Sunday’s number 1 game on CBS.
This aggresive move is a risky maneuver by CBS, to place an unexperienced commentator in the box as apart of CBS’s number 1 football calling team. It’s worked (and backfired) before, but in the furnace of reactionary and vicious social media commentary any mistake Romo happens upon will be exploited utterly without mercy.
For the Cowboys, Jerry Jones tried for weeks to see what value a possible trade could garner his team, but neither the Texans nor Broncos bit. The option of trading their decade long quarterback, to the cold depths of footballing purgatory in Cleveland, Chicago or San Francisco was reportedly never seriously considered in a show of respect.
In a conference call on Tuesday afternoon, Romo expanded on his career shifting announcement. “It was a very difficult decision. I went back and forth a number of times,” he said.
“It really had nothing to do with the Texans and everything to do with CBS. I felt like it was the right decision. My wife would tell you we’ve had a lot of late nights. It was nice to have some clarity,” Romo said.
However, there is a twist to this post football narrative. Romo has deliberately avoided mentioning the word retirement, and that’s because strictly speaking he hasn’t. Should the right call come, with the right price, then we could very well see Romo in a playing role in the NFL in 2017. Obviously this possible scenario was written into his contract with CBS, who have agreed, should Romo want to take up the pigskin again then that option is still on the table.
An anonymous NFL executive told ESPN that he believed that, “Romo is now every team’s emergency backup QB in case your starter gets hurt” and that those teams would have to “pay him to come out of ‘retirement.'”
“You never say never, but there’s no part of me that wants to play,” Romo said.
A troubling history of recent injuries was the primary reason why so few franchises were sparingly interested in the 4 time pro bowler. A trade, most likely to the Texans appeared to be the most likely and positive outcome for the Cowboys, who still have substantial finances invested in Romo. These high contract numbers combined with a worrying injury trend neutered any potential trade with Houston or Denver.
By giving Romo a post-June 1 release designation, it will save the Cowboys around $14 million on the cap in 2017 alone, although that cap space does not become available until June 2. The Cowboys will take three years of dead money hits, $19 million in 2017, $9 million in 2018 and $3 million in 2019. But with Dak Prescott only one year into his bargain basement rookie contract the Cowboys can afford this unused cash.
Although not out of the realms of possibility, it appears that we’ve seen the conclusion of the playing career of one of the more polarising American footballers of the past decade. Much to his chagrin, playoff success has eluded Tony Romo, the botched field goal snap against Seattle a decade ago still haunting him.
However, despite this the Romo legacy is quite an impressive one. Often surprising is his passer rating, at 97.1 has him in the top five all time. Also, contrary to popular fan opinion, Romo actually possesses one of the finest 4th quarter passer ratings, an exceptional touchdown-interception ratio, and 27 game winning drives, the most in the last decade. A stat where he leads Manning, Brady, Rodgers and Brees.
For fans and critics of the ex-Cowboys’ quarterback, you’re still going to see plenty of Tony Romo in your life. Getting an opportunity to leave NFL quarterbacking, for one of the more prestigious sports broadcasting roles in the United States, has given Romo the opportunity to be apart of our footballing lives for decades to come. For better or for worse.