Back cyst or back injury? Only Romo, Cowboys know

Shortly after signing a six-year extension this off-season that could buy a third-world country, we were told Tony Romo had a surgical procedure to remove a cyst on his back. That’s why it required a four-month recovery.

Why did Cowboys coach Jason Garrett say this on Sunday afternoon, shortly before Romo participated in his first full workout in months: “It’s a hard thing to do when you come off a back injury.”

Wait, back who? A back injury?

Considering the type of beating Romo took behind his offensive line in 2010, and 2011 and 2012, a back injury is not totally surprising. But it is not what this team has been saying for months.

“He has to continue to do the conditioning stuff when you’re coming off an injury,” Garrett said.

There is that word again — injury. Thought this was just a procedure. Remember, it was owner Jerry Jones who previously described Romo’s back procedure as a “toothache.”

A back injury, however, would make considerably more sense. It would also be a major red flag and massive area of concern for this franchise entering not only this season but for the foreseeable future.

“You’re trying to get the injury healed,” Garrett said. “He’s worked very hard at it.”

Saying the word “injury” once is an accident. Using the word “injury” multiple times is not word slip.

This just has the sounds and sights of being something of a far greater concern than originally spun.

“The way it was described to me it was a micro procedure,” Garrett said. “I was around when Troy Aikman had a severe back injury and had surgery I think in late June in the ’93 season, if I’m not mistaken. Relatively speaking, and I don’t like to compare things, they described this as a micro procedure as opposed to some of the other back injuries that guys have to deal with. You have to err on the side of caution.”

This doesn’t mean the Cowboys are lying; teams do this all the time, especially when it comes to the potential protection of their franchise quarterback.

And watching Romo work with the first-team offense on Sunday afternoon gave zero indication anything is wrong with him.

“I’ll monitor it. I monitored it ... today and came out of here good. As long as everything keeps flowing we’ll be fine,” Romo said after practice, who added there was just normal soreness in a recovery process that included no setbacks.

A back injury would explain Romo’s atypical lack of conditioning entering this training camp. His weight, which on the roster reads 236, is only 6 pounds more than he was listed at last season.

He was never a sculpted Adonis but rather an in-shape, fit pro athlete. To see him during the off-season, however, he clearly could not do any type of conditioning.

Being told to do nothing for four months as he recovered from the cyst removal made some sense.

Being told to do nothing for four months if he was recovering from a more invasive back surgery makes total sense.

Regardless if you are a Romo hater who just wishes the team would flush him and start over, for the sake of this franchise let’s hope the team wasn’t spinning too hard and that the procedure was to remove a cyst and was not anything to repair his back.

Back injuries, especially for a 33-year-old man whose job description includes being repeatedly hit by angry, 300-pound men, don’t normally get better. Back injuries for 33-year-old men who aren’t chased and hit by 300-pound men are not guaranteed to improve.

Only the Cowboys and Romo know for sure just how serious this surgery was, and provided he is upright and playing, we can just take their word all is well.

When the day comes Romo takes a big shot, or is driven into the ground by an opposing defender and doesn’t immediately pop up, this whole back surgery thing is going to come into play.

But the Cowboys are grooming no one to be his replacement, and Jerry appears he would rather eat cow flop than have to go through the type of Quincy Carter/Vinny Testaverde/Clint Stoerner/Drew Henson/Drew Bledsoe hell he had to in order to find his new Romo.

Not only is Jerry betting big by giving Romo so much money, he may be taking a bigger risk that this back thingy is nothing more than a procedure and not an actual injury.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof

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