Gil LeBreton

Delay releasing Romo is only Jerry being Jerry

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, right, did not release quarterback Tony Romo on Thursday, when most thought he would. Jones could have been sniffing around the league for a deal or just wanting to keep Romo in the Cowboys family one more day.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, right, did not release quarterback Tony Romo on Thursday, when most thought he would. Jones could have been sniffing around the league for a deal or just wanting to keep Romo in the Cowboys family one more day. Star-Telegram

The hour came, the night passed, and Tony Romo was explicably still a Dallas Cowboy.

Hold the videos and Instagram memorials, in other words. Owner Jones seems to still be trying to close the deal with someone on a 36-year-old, fender-damaged used car.

Oops. One video has already hit the information super-highway, it seems.

At 3 p.m. Thursday, precisely the hour when the NFL’s free agency period began, quarterback Romo released a short video message on Twitter, telling Cowboys fans goodbye.

“Me and my family felt the outpouring of support from all of you,” Tony said, apparently speaking from his workout room at home. “It’s been overwhelming, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. I want to say thank you.”

It was short. It was sweet. It was Romo in all his dimples.

He sure sounded like he was gone to me.

But as the hours passed Thursday with no official announcement on Romo’s status from the Jones family, the questions grew larger.

Why the video?

Why the timing of it?

And why the preface to Romo’s remarks, “It’s been a crazy 48 hours here”?

Crazy, as in what?

A skeptical Cowboys observer may well conclude that this is just Jerry being Jerry. He didn’t have to release Romo on Thursday. So he didn’t.

Why not try one more time, as the skeptics figured, to bait the hook for Romo? Try to actually create a trade market for the oft-injured quarterback. Try to get the Broncos and Texans in a bidding war.

Owner Jones has always had trouble telling people goodbye – with one notable exception. He didn’t seem to mind firing Tom Landry on the day he bought the team in 1989.

But Jones went through a similar goodbye thing with Troy Aikman after the 2000 season. The owner felt that after 12 seasons and three Super Bowl rings, Aikman’s body was breaking down.

Troy didn’t think so, and he wanted out immediately so that he could rejoin his old friend Norv Turner in San Diego, where Norv was the offensive coordinator.

Jones delayed and delayed, however, hoping to reword the deadline on Aikman’s contract to avoid an expensive extension and salary cap hit. By the time Jerry did release Troy in March 2001, the Chargers’ front office had moved on, signing Doug Flutie. Aikman eventually retired.

Owner Jones may want to “do right” by Romo, therefore, but it’s no reach to think that his first priority will always be the Cowboys. The uncharacteristic silence about Romo on Jones’ part – he usually can’t keep his mouth shut – may just be a tactic, trying to coax a trade partner.

It’s hard to blame Jones for wanting to get something – a little parting gift – for Romo besides a fumbled snap in Seattle and a lot of medical bills.

But if Denver and Houston both want Romo, it doesn’t make sense that they would want to hand Jones a draft pick first, when they could just wait a day or two and get Tony for just his signature.

Of course, Owner Jones could walk away from his trade phone and wait – wait all the way until training camps open in July and some other team’s quarterback gets hurt.

I don’t think, though, that even the man who fired Tom Landry would be that cold.

Reports suggest that neither the Texans nor Broncos are eager to part with draft picks for a quarterback who may only play one more season.

Yet, it appears that Owner Jones clearly tried Thursday, even as the quarterback in question was saying his goodbyes.

Tony Romo sure sounded gone to me.

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