Mac Engel

Romo’s dramatic flair made life easier for Dak and Garrett

Tony Romo is not dead.

The local and national outpouring of love displayed to the now-No. 2 quarterback of the Cowboys after his somber, and sincere, speech delivered at The Star in Frisco on Tuesday had me worried he was about to die.

Nope, just Tony wants to keep playing football and he’s smart enough not to raise a stink and accept the obvious — he’s no different than lots of other Americans who were demoted and are preparing to find another job.

Whatever Dak Prescott can absorb from Romo in what will be but one season with the veteran, he should memorize how Ramiro handled this demotion by his head coach. And that’s who did this — Jason Garrett.

The irony here is thick: No one player saved Garrett more than Tony Romo, who in the end did right by his head coach and made this decision infinitely easier by announcing to the world he “gets it” and that he will play the part of The Good Cowboy.

He would never do it, but Garrett owes Romo a thank-you truck of flowers for how he handled this. Both men were doing their jobs, but Garrett owed Romo a little more love than the standard “no one is bigger than the team” cliche.

Romo could have easily gone Brett Favre on the Cowboys and pouted his way through the rest of the season the way the Packers Hall of Famer did on his long way out of Green Bay.

After roughly 10 seasons and two playoff wins, the Romo Era is effectively over with the Cowboys. Tuesday’s announcement was the culmination of a legacy that was typical of his career. He had a flair for the dramatic and, when he wanted, owned the podium.

Perhaps it’s his love of sports movies — the end of his speech on Tuesday is the same thing Rangers manager Jeff Banister has repeatedly used from the movie Rocky Balboa — but Romo has always understood what sounds good.

We are absolute suckers for this stuff. While Romo never could quite deliver the type of big playoff wins that have defined this franchise’s quarterbacks, he never failed to know what to say and how it should sound.

Primarily because he means it.

After the loss to the Seahawks in the 2006 NFC wild-card game, he was on the brink of tears at the podium as he tried to explain why and how he bobbled the ball on the potential game-winning field goal.

The next morning when he was driving out of the Cowboys headquarters at 8 a.m., he looked and sounded like someone who’d lost a family member.

After the 2008 regular-season finale in Philadelphia, there he was — body battered to hell after his team lost 44-6 — saying, “If something in sports is the worst thing that ever happens to you, you’ve lived a pretty good life.”

He was roundly ridiculed for the timing of the comments, even if he was right.

Two days after teammate Jerry Brown was killed in a car accident in 2012, there was Romo adding perspective to a Cowboys’ come-from-behind win in Cincinnati.

There he was after the loss to the Packers in Green Bay in the 2014 NFC divisional game, fighting emotions alongside his family.

There he was Tuesday, acknowledging the the reality that Garrett and the Cowboys had no choice but to stay with the Dak Knight. And that, while Romo is happy for his town, the fans, his team, his teammates, even Dak, this hurts.

It could come across as a little preachy and professorial, but it was always from the right place.

That’s what people want to see from Dak — show us that it matters and that you care.

“It was sincere; it was authentic,” tight end Jason Witten said Wednesday of Romo’s speech. “He embodies everything you want. It’s not easy to get up and have this conversation.”

Easy? Go with miserable.

Dak, are you watching? Are you listening?

“I read about it,” Prescott said. “I watched pieces of it. He said it all. It was emotional and sincere. ... I’m not surprised. He’s told me that before (he met with the media).”

Do you know how good you have it? Not only do you have an offensive line that is the best in the NFL, the guy’s job you just took has not actively tried to push you to the side.

Don’t dismiss that because that happens in the NFL. It happens in every workplace.

It did not happen here because Romo understands what has just happened and to be so much as a gnat in this would be counter to what sounds good, what is right, and what he believes.

Hopefully, Dak was observing, and maybe the head coach will thank him one day for it, too.

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

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