Mac Engel

Romo’s return home bittersweet as Cowboys are no longer his

No announcement has been made and there is no need, but there was the slightest degree of sadness amid all of the euphoria for the Dallas Cowboys.

This should have been a homecoming for Tony Romo.

Lambeau Field is the home stadium of Romo’s favorite childhood team. On Sunday his sports’ hero, Brett Favre, was honored by the Green Bay Packers.

Some of Romo’s bigger individual moments came against this franchise — in 2007 at Texas Stadium and ’08 at Lambeau.

Romo’s hometown of Burlington, Wis., is roughly 2  1/2 hours south of Green Bay, and on the occasions the Cowboys have played the Packers since 2007 it’s the one time that green-and-gold community is kosher with supporting the Cowboys. But there will be scant reason to support the Cowboys in Burlington any longer.

The Cowboys’ 30-16 win over the Packers on Sunday is this team’s biggest regular-season victory since 2014 in Seattle, and although Romo was present in body he is not with this team.

He’s gone, and the Cowboys need to do right by this guy and let him go when the time is right. The man destroyed his body for the Cowboys, was paid millions in return, and he has earned the right to ask to go elsewhere to continue playing if that is his desire.

Dak Prescott would be better served with Mark Sanchez as his backup than Romo.

During Romo’s time away since he suffered the broken bone in his back he has been around to rehab and attended games, but little else. He is not in meetings; his game preparation is minimal to zero.

In fairness to Romo, that’s not an atypical routine for injured players; per quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson it’s the same schedule Romo has followed any other time he has been hurt.

“All I know he, he’s damn good,” wide receiver Dez Bryant said. “I wish I could speak more.”

No one is touching a subject the Cowboys have labeled, “Sensitive material.”

We are talking about Tony Romo, this team’s meal ticket since 2007 and a man who has given much for this franchise.

Although Romo was a backup before in his earliest days with the Cowboys, he was an NFL newbie simply trying to stick. Now he’s a 36-year-old veteran, big-dollar incumbent whose team for years imploded in his absence and lost his job because of injury.

And make no mistake — he has lost his job.

Jerry Jones refused to name a starting quarterback for the Cowboys’ next game on Oct. 30 against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football.

On behalf of every member of the media who surrounded Jerry on Sunday, we nearly all tried to nail him down on an answer. And then we tried. And tried again.

Jerry spoke politely and managed not to answer the barrage of questions about this issue, except to say that he is sincerely thrilled about what he has in both.

I asked him, if the Cowboys go with Prescott, what about Tony does he think would allow him to be a backup?

“We know how Tony can play in clutch situations, we know how he can win games and we know what a gamer he is, and we know when he’s out there we’ve won a very high percentage of the games. We know all of that,” Jerry said. “What we won’t know is when is the very best time relative to his injury, his conditioning, for him to be on the field. On the other hand, we’ve got an opportunity in Dak to have a player go out there and win these football games like he’s doing. That’s a good spot to be in.”

Yeah ... Tony is on the bench.

With 12 years of NFL experience, 127 career starts and 78 career wins, Romo is the ideal mentor for Dak. In this particular instance he is not.

Watching Romo dress while his good friend Jason Witten fielded countless questions on the productivity and rise of Dak Prescott was awkward and uncomfortable. To pretend otherwise is stupid.

It’s not Dead Quarterback Walkin’, but it’s close. No one, however, should feel too sorry for Romo. This is the unabashedly unapologetic world of pro football, and Romo knows this because he once lived this transition.

He was just on the fun side in 2006 when coach Bill Parcells named him the starting quarterback over veteran Drew Bledsoe.

Dakphoria in ’16 is on the same hyperbolic, irrational level as Romo-mania in ’06. Where exactly are the Romosexuals now?

Bledsoe rode the bench through the end of ’06 and retired at the age of 34, with not nearly the amount of injuries as Romo.

It’s apparent the Cowboys intend to take this path, unless circumstances force them to do otherwise. The only difference, Romo sounds like a man who wants to stay with it, and he has earned that right.

Although he is signed through 2019, the Cowboys owe it to him to try to find a place for him if that is his wish. That place should not be with the only team he’s ever known.

The charming, inspirational NFL story that will always be Tony Romo was not supposed to end like this. And while this development was inconceivable a few months ago this is where the Cowboys are.

They have their starting quarterback.

It’s just no longer the undrafted rookie free agent from Burlington, Wis.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram