Tony Romo’s first game as the designated backup since 2006 involved a fair amount of pouting, only this time he was the one sulking.
They don’t need him and he knows it. The Dallas Cowboys are a better team with Dak Prescott, and that part he likely can never admit. This has all the makings of one of those things he might never get over.
He does not want to be a part of this unless he’s a part of it, and talking about what it was like to watch a game as a healthy scratch for the first time in a decade is not on his to-do list.
When asked how Romo has handled this demotion, one Cowboys front office person told me, “How do you think? It’s hard on him.”
While his handwritten speech delivered on Tuesday was heartfelt, self-serving and self-important, if he wants to be true to the image he projected that he is this “team guy,” the pouting routine has to go on the shelf. Now.
To do anything other than that will expose him as a fraud; that it was about him and the success of the team doesn’t matter unless he’s starting.
“It’s just part of the business and a part of football, and you’ve seen it with other positions and other guys and they make it bigger because it’s the quarterback position, and who he was and how long he’s been there,” said receiver Cole Beasley, who caught five passes for 59 yards with a touchdown on Sunday. “It’s like any other position or any other guy.”
This is not like any other position. This is not like any other guy.
As happy as Jerry Jones said he was to see Romo out there on Sunday, it was weird to see a healthy Tony Romo sitting there in the locker room without needing to take a shower after a game because he didn’t break a sweat.
It’s weird to see Tony Romo blow off pregame warmups because he’s not playing. It’s weird to see Tony Romo, healthy, standing on the sideline in full uniform, wearing a headset and watching his replacement throw touchdown passes to Dez Bryant, as happened twice on Sunday.
The team just rolled to its ninth consecutive win, in which the offense eclipsed 400 yards for the eighth consecutive time. An entire franchise that normally imploded in Romo’s absence now is doing better than it ever did with him, save for one or two other times.
It’s a fascinating narrative twist to witness, but this reality must be killing him.
“There’s nothing weird about this,” Beasley said. “We’re 9-1. You don’t worry about stuff like that. There is nothing to feel awkward about — you are winning games.”
That is the end of that.
No matter how much it hurts, that is the part Romo must come to terms with or the ending of his sports career in DFW will turn far worse. If the pouting continues, teammates will shut him out, and he will be even less of a part of this “magic” than he already is.
We all think we are special, and the world will end without us, until we realize that all of us have a replacement waiting. That the sunrise doesn’t care.
For a man who for a decade spouted philosophical rhetoric about such realities now looks like a guy who can’t accept, or believe, it happened to him.
It doesn’t mean this is fun, but there is a way to do this.
“I was in that same situation and I know it’s not easy at all. I feel him 100 percent,” said guard Ron Leary, who lost his starting job last year to rookie La’el Collins, only to get it back earlier this season when Collins suffered an injury. “You always want to play and when that’s taken away it stings. You have to do some self-evaluation. You have to recommit; it’s easy to fade off when you’re not playing. That is the hardest part. I went through it every single day.”
Romo has his health, a great family, more money than he can count and for 10 years he was the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Get over it. Precisely nobody should be feeling sorry for him.
Because when Romo watches the Cowboys from the sideline he must see what we all see — however he arrived, Dak Prescott is the starting quarterback. First it was by chance, now it’s because he simply earned it.
Against the top-ranked defense in the NFL on Sunday, Prescott was bad early until he figured it out and completed 27 of 36 passes for 301 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
That is the part Romo could never completely grasp throughout his career; Dak protects the ball whereas with Romo there was always that chance it was going the other way. Dak has thrown 17 touchdown passes with two interceptions and a yards-per-pass attempt of 8.4.
While Dak’s offensive line has made his life warm and cozy, these statistics and results are not an accident.
The Ravens tried much of what the Philadelphia Eagles did against the Cowboys and that is to pressure him; it worked, until Dak figured it out and did what he has done since Week 2.
None of this means Dak is destined to lead the Cowboys to Houston and the Super Bowl this season, but he is the right quarterback for this team.
No matter how hard it is to accept, Romo must see that.
Now he needs to quit pouting, be the “team guy” he professed and just deal with it. If he can’t, then we know he’s a fraud and the “classy” speech was just an act.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.