The legacy of Tony Romo

Image via Texas Monthly
Image via Texas Monthly

The end of an era in Dallas

By Davie Wong, Sports Editor


Any of my friends who are even remotely interested in football could tell you who my favourite team is. Hell, I’m sure half my block can tell you who my favorite NFL team is. Since the day I started watching football, I’ve always been a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. But not die-hard in the sense that I know all the best Cowboys players off the back of my hand. I grew up in a very different age of Cowboys football. I grew up in the era of Romo.

I’m not going to lie and say I loved the Cowboys since the days of Emmitt Smith and all those other greats. Honestly, I didn’t know them. I grew up watching the guy who came from nothing and grew into arguably one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the modern NFL. To me, the Dallas Cowboys was Tony Romo. Tony Romo was the Dallas Cowboys. Sure, guys like DeMarcus Ware and DeMarco Murray had their moments in my heart, but Tony Romo really was the guy who stuck around the longest.

That all comes crashing down fairly soon. Romo has been promised to be traded, or released by the Dallas Cowboys organization. If all hell comes down, and he ends up staying in Dallas, he likely won’t be starting again for a while. With his huge salary cap hit, it would be insane if the Cowboys didn’t move him or let him walk. As much as it hurts to admit, Romo is done in Dallas. The Cowboys have found a new quarterback in Dak Prescott, and finding a backup for him that costs a fraction of what it would cost to maintain Romo should be no problem. But before he moves on, let’s take a look at what he’s done for the Dallas Cowboys.

Romo came to the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent overlooked in the 2003 NFL Draft. Although a promising prospect for the Cowboys, it wouldn’t be until 2006 that Romo would get his first official regular season NFL play. Winning the starting role from the former great Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo became the Cowboys go-to quarterback for a little under 10 years. In that time, he has picked up four Pro-Bowl team nods, led the NFL in Passer Rating and Completion Percentage in 2014, been named Offensive Player of the Month twice, and he has the most pass attempts through 100 games, most consecutive road wins with a single touchdown at 41 and going, highest ever QB Rating in the month of December, and he holds the record with the most games with a Passer Rating of 135+ in a season at six. Along with being the Dallas Cowboys career leader in passing touchdowns and passing yards, he holds nearly all the QB records imaginable for the franchise. It would be ridiculous to even try to list them all. So I think it’s needless to say that Tony Romo has been one of the best Dallas Cowboys quarterback in a very long time, if not ever.

However, Romo hasn’t been without his faults. His nickname, which is quite honestly well deserved, happens to be Tony “IR” Romo, where the IR means injury reserve. In his career, Romo has been injured far more times than you can count. He is infamous for starting a season well, and then leaving the team hanging by being unable to finish the season over whatever injury. In the last two years, Romo has only seen 12 games out of the possible 37. In 2015, he broke his clavicle, came back, and then injured his shoulder. This most recent year, the IR master suffered a compression fracture on one of his vertebrae, putting him out for 10 weeks. Romo then lost his job to upstart rookie Dak Prescott. While he has had an amazing season, there’s a reason Romo is known as the ultimate risk in fantasy football. Some years he’s amazing, but lately, he can’t even make it halfway through.

With Prescott being the undeniable future of the Cowboys, what’s next for the man who’s alone known the blue stripe and stars for years? Free agency is most likely, but who’s going to pick him up? Romo represents the ultimate gamble in football. Yes, even more than Johnny Manziel. Romo is capable of turning a team’s offence around. But you’ll need to protect him, because that man is softer than clay. One bad hit and he’s done for the season.

Romo is also looking like the second most valuable available quarterback leading up the draft, with the first being Tom Brady’s understudy, Jimmy Garoppolo. So who’s looking likely?

The Houston Texans are being whispered about as the most likely to pick up Romo, and they are rumoured to be Romo’s preferred team. After all, Houston is just a bit south of Dallas, so his family won’t have to uproot. With the Texans dealing away their starter Brock Osweiler, it’s looking very likely the Texans will be making heavy moves for Romo. While Garoppolo is the ideal target, the Texans don’t have the sort of value to send the Patriots’ way. With the 25th spot in the Rookie Draft, the Texans would have to make a mad deal to get good ol’ Jimmy—something short of sending them JJ Watt and a first-round pick plus more will likely be what it takes to get the Pats to bite, and that is just way too much. The Texans are hungry for the win, and they want it now. Romo might just be the answer to that, but the Texans will need to draft heavily for the offensive line, lest Romo perish from getting sacked four or five times a game.

The Cleveland Browns are also said to be in the running, but look fairly unlikely. With the Browns already holding Osweiler, and being the most likely team to get Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s hard to say that Romo will end up with the Browns. It’s certainly possible. And with the Browns’ management having their head somewhere up in the brown, it’s very well damn plausible that Romo ends up with them.

The dark horses to sign Romo is the Buffalo Bills. The Bills sat Tyrod Taylor in their final game of the season, foreshadowing his release or trade in the very near future. Romo could be the guy that comes in and gives the Bills the push they need. With the Bills having the 10th pick in the draft, it’s unlikely they’ll get the QB that they want, and it could be that they trade the 10th pick to Dallas for Romo and a second rounder. Would Romo stick around in Buffalo? Hell no. The Bills are only delaying their inevitable death as a team if they make the move for Romo. They need to rebuild, and they need to commit to it. But who knows, I could be wrong.

There’s also the chance that Romo goes nowhere. If the Texans pull out of the deal for Romo, or Romo can’t make it with the Texans, we could very well see the man retire. This guy is 36 going on 37. It’s not unfair to say that his best years are behind him. Romo is no Brady, or Rodgers. He hasn’t defied age, and he hasn’t beat the decline. He could very well be done.

If that’s so, I can see him staying on with the Cowboys as a mentor and QB coach for Dak Prescott. Or maybe he’ll want a couple years off to be with his family. Whatever he chooses, and no matter what happens to Tony Romo, his legacy will carry on. He will forever be the Dallas Cowboys in my heart, and in the hearts of many. A shoe-in for the Cowboys Hall of Fame, he’ll forever be one of the greats to play the game. At least to me.