Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo appreciates his health after hospital visit

Tony Romo led a group of Dallas Cowboys into Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children on Tuesday morning. The quarterback was greeted with oohs and aahs.

The team’s annual holiday visits to area children’s hospitals put everything in perspective, Romo said.

“I think more than anything you appreciate your health and how lucky you are and how not everybody has that,” Romo said after signing autographs and posing for pictures with patients and their families.

Romo, 34, no doubt was feeling better about his ailments Tuesday.

He has played through back injuries and a rib injury, starting 12 of 13 games and missing only 82 of a possible 789 plays this season.

“I think the thing that you find is if you can play, you play in the NFL,” Romo said. “We just have so few games to be able to show how good you are and what kind of player you can be. Ultimately, though, once you step on the field, no one actually cares how you feel, so it doesn’t really matter what you have going on. It’s going to be about production and performance. You’re going to be judged off that no matter what. You’ve got to find a way regardless to go out and help your football team. Otherwise, you’re just hurting them. You don’t want to be that guy.”

Romo revealed in a post-game interview with NFL Network last week that he had a rib injury. He tore rib cartilage, which is commonly considered a fracture. It stems from the rib injury he suffered in the San Francisco game in 2011, and Romo aggravated it in the Oct. 12 game at Seattle.

The NFL said it is reviewing why Romo’s rib injury never was listed on the back report.

“More than anything, you just fight through things you’ve had,” Romo said. “I understand that it’s a part of the NFL and having to get everything right. That’s probably why you don’t talk about things in general just because it doesn’t help your football team in any capacity.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday morning on his weekly radio show that he expected the team to be cleared. Romo has been listed on the injury report all season, because of his surgically repaired back.

“The Cowboys have not hidden anything,” Jones said on KRLD-FM. “…I don’t know that anything has been any more discussed than Tony Romo’s back, staying out of Wednesdays practices, his limitation in a ball game. So I’m pretty confident that the whole picture of his back area is one that at the end of the day will pass the test of openness about his condition. I do think that a lot of what it’s about is a cumulative thing, but I think he’s handled it well. I’m at real peace. I don’t know any part on any player in the NFL that could have had more look-sees from any officials.”

Romo fractured two transverse processes in his back in an Oct. 27 game against the Washington Redskins and missed the next week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. He said the fractures are “close” to being healed.

No matter, Romo has been at his best most of the season. His 108.8 passer rating ranks second in the NFL to Aaron Rodgers, and Romo has a 69.1 completion percentage for 2,923 yards with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“Football for me, it’s my life’s work,” Romo said. “That’s my career. I’ll be a husband; I’ll be dad, and I’ll have been a football player at the time when I finish on this Earth. In some ways, I want to give everything I can into being the best version of that I can be. There’s only 16 games a year, 16 days, that you’re guaranteed, and you’re really not even guaranteed that, but that you can go out and show that. You just want to make sure you give everything you can. It’s a great, rewarding experience if you’re able to do that at a level that you feel proud of.”

The Cowboys (9-4) get a second chance at a first-place showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles (9-4). The winner will be in the driver’s seat in the NFC East with a one-game lead with two games remaining.

“I am excited,” Romo said. “I think you play through seasons to the end of the year to play in games like these, and I think it’s going to be a tough test. I think it’s going to take everybody. I think we’re going to need our special teams, our defense and our offense. Obviously, our offense has to step up, and I’m excited about the challenge ahead of us.”

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @NFLCharean