While everyone was waiting on the Dallas Cowboys to make a decision on Tony Romo, Romo was trying to make up his mind. To play, or not to play: that was the question.
Romo began discussions with CBS, as well as other television executives, once the season ended. CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said talks “heated up in the last couple of weeks.”
Romo considered continuing his playing career, insisting several teams showed interest with the Houston Texans “at the top of that list.” But Romo and CBS came to an agreement Monday night.
The Cowboys released Romo on Tuesday as CBS introduced him as the network’s lead NFL analyst. Romo replaces Phil Simms alongside Jim Nantz.
“It wasn’t a simple decision,” Romo said during an hour-long CBS conference call. “It got easier when I started to really get excited about working with CBS. That part of it gets the juices flowing and started to get you excited to be a part of a team and go attack a craft. Obviously, there’s a lot of little things that played a role.
“... I do like the aspect of being able to spend time with your kids. That wasn’t just the only reason. That was part of it. Health was a little part of it. Part of it was just, the closer I got, it’s an exciting opportunity to go to CBS.”
Romo likely earns induction into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, retiring as the team’s all-time-leading passer. But he went only 2-4 in the postseason, never advancing beyond the divisional round.
He could have attempted to fill that hole in his resume by signing with a Super Bowl contender. Romo mentioned the Texans, and the Denver Broncos also likely had interest.
“Yeah, there was absolutely interest [from other NFL teams],” Romo said. “There were plenty of different things that came up ... that were available to me if I decided to go down that path.”
Instead, Romo will have to be content with broadcasting Super Bowl LIII for CBS in 2019.
Romo, who turns 37 in April, has not played a full, 16-game season since 2012 because of injuries. He started only four games his last two seasons, and he lost his job to Dak Prescott last season while recuperating from a compression fracture in his back.
Romo’s 4,335th pass, his final career attempt, was a touchdown to Terrance Williams.
“I’m probably as healthy as I’ve been in three or four years,” Romo said. “The weird thing is I’d probably be playing healthier this year than I did in ’14. From that perspective, that wasn’t hanging over my head to make the decision for me.”
While Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman announced their retirements from the NFL during tearful press conferences, Romo’s departure from the Cowboys came in a press release.
“Tony has been a wonderful representative of the Cowboys organization for 14 years, and he left everything he had on the field,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. “He will leave us with many great memories and a legacy of being, truly, one of the greatest players in Cowboys history.”
Romo didn’t completely close the door on his retirement, leaving at least a crack when asked about the possibility of a comeback.
“Do I envision coming back and playing football? Absolutely not,” Romo said. “I’m committed to CBS. I’m going to be there for good. Do I think I’m going to get some calls? I’m sure I will. I envision there’s not enough quarterbacks as is to win 12 games in the NFL anyway. So I do feel like for me the reality that’s going to happen. Now right now? I’m telling you that I don’t think it’s going to be that hard of a decision. I think I’m going to get in the booth; I’m going to like it; it’s going to be a challenge. I’m excited. I just don’t envision that being something that I’m going to have to think long and hard about.
“It’s one of those things you do: You never say never. I just tell you it’s about 99 percent.”