Gil LeBreton

Don’t cry for Tony Romo, who was ready to dump Dak

If you’ve noticed, whenever Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones ventures from his natural habitat, an ardent infestation of cameras and notepads follows his every move.

And Owner Jones almost always obliges, whether it’s saying that Troy Aikman "looks good in the shower" or that CAT scans show he has the "mind of a 40-year-old."

You can’t make this stuff up, and with Jerry the media doesn’t have to.

And thus, here was Jones last week suggesting that deposed quarterback Tony Romo was eager to accept any new role, including passing out the Gatorade.

As Jerry put it, "If we ask him to be the water boy, he wants to drown them with the water."

I get the owner’s point, but the notion of Romo fully embracing the role of sideline cheerleader is ludicrous. Jones demeans Tony just by saying it.

And then he added this gem:

"I think Tony has got five years left of really competing for a Super Bowl. I believe that strongly.

"We’re talking generic now," Jones said. "I have no plans for him not to be part of the Dallas Cowboys."

Five years? Romo has broken bones and been unable to finish three of the last five games he’s started, yet Jerry thinks Tony can quarterback until he is 41 years old?

Jones is right about one thing. Romo probably does have some football left in him. That seemed apparent during Romo’s emotional statement in front of the media last Tuesday afternoon.

It turns out, however, as reported by Albert Breer of MMQB, that Tony actually asked the coaches for a chance to compete to regain his starting job.

Whoa. Mr. Team Man was willing to upset the momentum of an 8-1 season and send Dak Prescott to the bench?

The coaches understandably refused because, well, the team is 8-1. What exactly did Romo think he would be able to improve upon?

I have no doubt there are Cowboys fans, including some among the local and national media, who watched Romo on Tuesday and went through a box of tissues. Through teary eyes, an NFL Network reporter suggested that the farewell speech was so eloquent, it would become Romo’s "legacy" in Dallas.

Maybe so. But Romo is going to have a hard time shaking the fact that is the highest paid player in franchise history ($127 million so far), yet produced only two playoff victories.

As I wrote Tuesday, once Jones and the coaches decided that Prescott is the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future, there were only two ways that Romo could have handled his public response. The wrong way would have been to raise a stink and cry that it wasn’t fair. The other way was what he did Tuesday, by more or less nobly falling on his sword.

Either way, he wasn’t starting Sunday.

The public clearly bought into it, but it was because Romo said exactly what Cowboys fans wanted to hear.

Imagine, instead, if Romo had not said anything, and suddenly in the middle of Sunday’s game against the Ravens, coach Jason Garrett would have thrust Romo into the game?

Much of the crowd would have howled – howled! What’s Romo doing in there?

Romo chose, instead, to summon the media and control the message by reading his prepared statement, a narrative that painted him as the ultimate, unselfish company man.

Except he did ask coaches in the middle of an 8-1 season to let him try to win his job back, now, didn’t he?.

Anybody else see the contradictions in that?

I’m not picking on Tony. I’m really not.

His speech Tuesday probably had a twofold purpose. It disarmed the growing public sentiment against him, and it served as a nationally televised "job wanted" ad for any teams that were watching.

Like his boss, the owner, said, Tony still has football to play. But it’s folly to think that a quarterback who’s been paid more than any Cowboys player in history, yet has won only two playoff games, deserves your tears and sympathy.

Cheer him. Support him. Wish him good luck in Denver.

But don’t cry for Tony Romo, though he wanted you to.

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