Mac Engel

Tony Romo needs to play one more time for Cowboys

Tony Romo’s finale with the Cowboys won’t finish the way he, his big boss, and his now revisionist-history writing legion of loyal fans all desire but he can’t go out like this.

The last image of Tony Romo playing as a Dallas Cowboy can’t be being sacked and injured against the Carolina Panthers on Thanksgiving of ’15.

The last image of Tony Romo playing as a Cowboy can’t be of him having his back broken by a Seattle Seahawks defender in a preseason game in August of ’16.

The last image of Tony Romo as a Cowboy can’t be standing on the sidelines watching his replacement lead his team to postseason success in January of ’17.

There needs to be one more play; Romo knows you don’t leave the green until the putt goes in, and you don’t leave the court on anything other than a made jumper.

Romo’s status is the reason to watch Cowboys at Eagles, and we should all want to see him play one more time.

This most inspirational NFL story, and this person, deserves one more positive moment on the field as a Cowboy; it should have been at home, but Philly is both ironic and the appropriate destination for this occasion.

Philly is the home of Rocky Balboa, the famed fictional boxer whose story has inspired generations, including Romo. Romo is like the rest of us — he loves Rocky, so much so that he quoted him in his “concession speech” two months ago.

The part of Romo’s speech about “the guy in the mirror” is straight from Sylvester Stallone’s character from the finale of the franchise, Creed.

Romo has some Rocky in him; they both were largely ignored and when given the smallest of chances, they made it. The only difference is Hollywood could give Rocky a title while the unscripted opponents of the NFL never let Romo achieve that reality.

A few miles from the statue of Rocky in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is Lincoln Financial Field, where Romo hit the lowest point of his career.

The Cowboys entered the 2008 regular season finale needing to defeat the Eagles to make the playoffs. Instead, they lost 44-6.

After the game, a battered Romo fell in the shower, and in the postgame interview famously said, “If something in sports is the worst thing that ever happens to you, you’ve lived a pretty good life.”

This season has most certainly challenged that correct, but ill-timed, philosophical musing.

Whatever your feelings about Dak Prescott and Romo, this story deserves a better final moment that what is presently available, especially when it is possible to create one.

Head coach Jason Garrett, who has been tied to Romo since 2007 when he was the offensive coordinator, needs to give Romo one more series.

We are talking about the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys who although he won two playoff games in his 10-year career as the starter — and was wildly enabled by his Lombardi-lusting owner, gave everything.

He loved the benefits of being a celebrity NFL quarterback, but no one could possibly challenge how much the game, and the Cowboys, mattered to him.

He must run out there one more time, for himself, his team and his town.

He needs to feel a real game, of which he has not played since November last season. He needs to just in case his replacement, Dak Prescott, should go down in the playoffs.

Romo needs to kneel under center once more, and throw one more pass to his best friend on the team — tight end Jason Witten. For a decade they were as consistent and as reliable as any pass-catch duo in the NFL.

There is no reason not to do this; the outcome of this game is as important as Week 4 of the preseason.

The final game of the NFL’s regular season is often reserved for such ceremonial moments — Packers quarterback Brett Favre giving himself up so New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan could break the single season sack record, in 2001.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick let backup quarterback Doug Flutie drop-kick an extra point in 2006.

With all respect to gamblers, other than the Eagles’ draft slot, the outcome of Sunday’s game affects nothing. As long as Romo is not in any danger of injury, which given his status can’t be taken for granted, he needs to play.

He has been a Dallas Cowboy since the the team signed him as a rookie free agent in 2004, and while most players cannot choose how they leave there is a chance for a better finish than the one currently provided.

Let him walk away as a Dallas Cowboy with a good memory on the field rather than one standing on the sideline.

Let him play.

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