Tony Romo had been somewhat of an NFL opening-week quarterbacking exception, enjoying a great Sunday in Cleveland, except, of course, for that bloody chin thing.
The weekend had also gone very well for Bill and Sharon White of Irving, who were returning late in the evening after an out-of-town trip.
The national news was about a day of QB disasters around the league, even at the elite level. Tom Brady, down and out for the season. Peyton Manning, looking feeble and lost. Carson Palmer, his once stellar reputation taking another plunge.
And for pure weirdness, there's Vince Young, a young man in obvious need of either a good shrink or a good butt-kicking.
Meanwhile, even as devout football fans, the Whites had been on the road and out of touch with the NFL events. They particularly didn't want to know the Dallas Cowboys' outcome. The TiVo at home was waiting. Bill planned to watch the Cleveland game immediately, with suspense attached.
But a couple of miles from the house, while driving on MacArthur Boulevard, the Whites had their own mini-disaster. A tire blew on the Mercury. Bill, luckily, managed to nurse his wounded ride off the street and into the lighted parking lot of a strip mall.
For troubling news on a Sunday, it didn't rank up there with taking a direct hit to the chin from the helmet of linebacker Willie McGinest, but Bill became a bit woozy himself when he discovered his jack was malfunctioning. Never a good thing at midnight.
Plan B kicked in, however. One of those cigarette-lighter-plug-in air compressors was available. Except it was leaking more air than it was pumping.
"I don't know, a hundred cars, probably more, had to go by. Nobody was stopping," said Bill. "That's just kind of the way it is in today's world."
And then ...
"Bill was fooling with that tire, and I was standing beside the car watching him," Sharon said. "The next thing I know, a nice-looking young man, very well-dressed, but with something strange on his chin, he walked up, smiled, and said, 'Hey, you need some help?' "
Sharon hadn't even noticed a car pull up.
So now it's Bill and the well-dressed young man both bent over a flat tire at midnight on a Sunday, trying to figure out why a faulty air compressor plugged into the cigarette lighter was leaking more than pumping.
"I didn't get a good look at him at that point," Bill said. "We were both trying to get the tire pumped up."
Sharon, however, took a second look. "You are Tony Romo," she said. No reply, just a smile, and then it was back to work on the compressor.
Finally, they got the tire aired up. Enough, anyway, to make a slow drive home.
"I didn't want to bother him," Sharon said, "but I asked again, 'You're Tony Romo, right?' " I knew it was him by then. But he smiled and said, 'Yes, ma'am.' "
Sharon: "I did something no 50-year-old woman should be doing, but I screamed real loud, and then jumped up and hugged him."
Bill's immediate response was "Don't tell me how you guys did. I'm going home to watch it."
By the next day, after seeing what the "something strange on his chin" was about, that made the Whites appreciate Romo's gesture even more.
"He gets almost knocked cold in that game, and I read it took 13 stitches to close the cut, and then there's a long flight home [the Cowboys charter arrived at around 11 p.m.] and Tony's got to be dog tired, but he still was a good enough person to stop and help us," Bill said.
"Look, we're driving a 10-year old car that is sitting in a parking lot with a flat tire in the dead of night. He could tell by that we're nothing special. But here's a young man making millions of dollars, and he's got all this fame and glory, and he does this?"
The Whites couldn't thank Romo enough. "But if I ever had the opportunity, I'd also like to thank two other people. His mom and dad," Bill said. "They obviously raised him right. We've got kids about his age. We know how difficult it can sometimes be in this day and age."
(An e-mail from Sharon alerted me to Tony's good deed. No Cowboys official knew about it even by Wednesday.)
Not that the Whites weren't already Romo fans, but ...
"After all this, what I realized is the athletic thing is Tony's gift, yet it goes beyond that," Bill said. "This was a good person we met. A good person with small-town values despite all the big-city fame and fortune."
Shrug off a blow to the chin. Win a game. Help strangers fix a flat. It was a fine Sunday for the kid.