Tony Romo promises this season is ‘going to be good’

Posted Thursday, Sep. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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It was one day late in training camp in Oxnard, Calif., when Tony Romo passed a reporter as he walked back to his room after practice.

A brief exchange of pleasantries ensued regarding the recent announcement that Romo and his wife Candice were expecting their second child.

Then, before walking off, the Cowboys quarterback volunteered this promise: “It’s going to be good this year. Just watch.”

It wasn’t the pronouncement of a man feeling the weight of the world on his back for past failures or the pressure of living up to his new, six-year $108 million contract extension and an increased role in the offense.

They were the words of a man seemingly, albeit finally, comfortable in his own skin and place in the Cowboys organization.

Sure, Romo remains a lightning rod for Cowboys fans and the media regarding the team’s lack of postseason success since he became quarterback in 2006.

He has one career playoff win and a 1-6 record in win-or-go-home games in the regular season or playoffs, including an 0-2 mark the past two years when the Cowboys ended back-to-back 8-8 seasons by losing in playoffs-or-bust games in the season finale.

So until the Cowboys win something significant, he will always live in the shadows of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

But the 11-year veteran, who joined the team in 2003 as an undrafted free agent before becoming the most prolific passer in team history, is emboldened by the fact that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has placed his faith and the franchise in his hands.

Romo will never have to wear another uniform and could go down as the longest-tenured starting quarterback in team history if he sees out his contract.

It allows Romo to head into the 2013 season looking forward with a singular focus of rewarding Jones and those who believed in him by doing all he can to get the Cowboys back in the playoffs and make a Super Bowl run for the first time since 1995.

“I love this organization,” Romo said. “We started something here. We haven’t achieved that goal yet. I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that we do. I don’t like being an average football team, and I don’t like being an average quarterback who’s a part of an 8-8. I feel like we’re better than that. I feel like we need to do things to change that.

“For me, I wanted to end my career here with the Dallas Cowboys and achieve what we started.”

Does Romo feel the pressure of being the Cowboys quarterback? Sure.

But it’s nothing he can’t handle based on the work ethic and attitude he’s displayed since joining the team out of tiny Northeastern Illinois.

Romo is a guy who received two texts from former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells in the last six months. Remember that it was Parcells who began the Romocoaster in Dallas by benching veteran Drew Bledsoe and shockingly making the precocious kid with cute smile the starter six games into the 2006 season.

“Bill … sent me a text after [the contract] that said, ‘I was just wondering if coming to Dallas had worked out for you,’” Romo recalled. “I had to laugh. It was pretty funny.”

What Romo might not have found as funny was the text sent by Parcells on the first day of training camp.

“Did he also tell you I texted him when I saw he weighed 236 instead of his playing weight of 225?” Parcells recalled. “I said, ‘Romo, when I see you, just give me the fine money. You’re 11 pounds overweight. Give me the fine money.’”

Romo is now a seasoned veteran. That he survived Parcells should have been proof enough that he has a thick skin and can handle criticism.

The contract and the new role don’t change any of that.

“Pressure is what you make it,” Romo said. “To me, it’s just about preparation, and I’m going to wear out preparation like I always have. If anything, the older you get, you might have a little more voice with the coaches. I think that part of it just ends up naturally taking shape.

“Contract stuff, all that other stuff has nothing to do with pressure. It’s literally about winning and turning this thing from an 8-8 team into something that our fans will be proud of and that I want to give to a lot of different people.”

From owner Jerry Jones’ point of view, there has never been any doubt about Romo and what he means to the organization. Jones has always felt Romo was the part of the solution to the playoff woes, not the source of the problem.

What Jones knows and others overlook when they criticize Romo’s performance in the clutch is that he led the team to a league-high and franchise record five comeback wins last year.

Romo now holds the team record with 18 career fourth-quarter comeback wins, surpassing Troy Aikman (16) and Roger Staubach (15), and his 100.7 career passer rating in the fourth quarter and overtime (playoffs included) is the highest among all quarterbacks since 2000 (minimum 150 attempts).

Now, instead of just finding ways to get Romo some help on the field, Jones made the bold step of giving him added responsibility and input that he believes will pay off big-time for the Cowboys.

“I don’t think there’s more pressure than he has always put on himself or that we put on the quarterback position itself,” Jones said. “I think it’s more of a positive enthusiasm for how he’s expanding his responsibility. I think there’s energy in him about getting to do something that he hasn’t done before. I think we’re going to benefit from that.”

And, according to Romo, it’s going to be good this year.

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