Mac Engel

Romo’s Ring of Honor-less career ends

Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Tony Romo and Dak Prescott practice before a January game against the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Tony Romo and Dak Prescott practice before a January game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The happy ending for Tony Romo’s career was the beginning.

Some guys just don’t get everything, and the crowning achievement for Romo will not be winning a Super Bowl for the Cowboys but the chance to be its starting quarterback for 10 years.

In the world of analytics, Romo’s chances of doing what he did for the Cowboys has to be in the 3 percent range, although that number feels high.

Romo should never have made it to play a single NFL game, forget a Super Bowl.

He wasn’t a full-scholarship player at a directional I-AA school. The only reason he was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine was not to be evaluated but rather to throw practice passes to receivers. He wasn’t drafted.

And yet 14 seasons, 127 NFL starts, 78 wins, 34,183 passing yards and four Pro Bowls later, here we are — the end of Tony Romo’s career with the Cowboys.

Romo is expected to be released by the Cowboys on Thursday, thus starting his tour of other potential spots to sign as a free agent. Start with Denver, go to Houston, and if it’s any team other than those we all need to say a prayer for Tony.

Shortly after celebrating one of the all-time professional milestones — Dirk Nowitzki’s 30,000th career NBA point — we now say good-bye to another one of the all-time most enduring, endearing yet frustrating players.

If you could just evaluate Romo on the aforementioned merits alone, it was a brilliant, entertaining and most productive career.

In the end, Ramiro Romo put up Hall of Fame-worthy statistics but did not have a Ring of Honor-worthy career. If Danny White isn’t in, Romo can’t be either.

Because for all of Romo’s greatness, he’s going to be remembered more for what he didn’t do rather than celebrated for what he did.

In one playoff season, White won as many playoff games as Romo did in his entire career. White went to three straight NFC title games, an event we have not seen around these here parts since the days of The Bootlegger, Barry Switzer.

What Romo did do since he was named the starting quarterback in 2006 was to inspire, captivate, aggravate, entertain and enthrall us all. He was never boring. Ultimately, he simply wasn’t enough.

Call it bad timing, or being a victim of Jerry Jones’ Series of Unfortunate Events, the constant throughout this last decade was Romo; a 2-4 playoff record is not good enough for the Dallas Cowboys.

Don’t feel sorry for him; Tony is not a fool and he knows this.

The immediate reaction to the news of Romo’s impending release was that of a typical canonization of the deceased, only without rigor mortis.

The same people who wanted Romo’s head on a plate for his shortcomings now want Mother Teresa’s sainthood revoked and handed to Romo. Or at a minimum that he be enshrined in Canton, preferably by week’s end.

Don’t worry, Romo fans — he will go in the Ring of Honor someday.

For as much inspiration as Romo is to walk-ons everywhere, he is also a model to aspiring professionals in a different capacity: It pays for your boss to like you.

Because he never wanted to go through the hell of finding an adequate replacement for Aikman, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suffocated Romo in so much money he needed a SCUBA tank to breathe through the more than $100 million he was paid.

Despite the fact that Romo never won an NFC Divisional Round playoff game, there is no way the Jones family will not put Romo in their Ring of Honor. This is a close, personal relationship and neither party wanted it to end this way.

But Dak happens.

Playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is a great gig, provided you can deal with the preposterous expectations set by Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, White and Troy Aikman. Romo, too.

Romo tried like hell, and his body has the scars to prove it, which is one of the many reasons we fell in love with the guy. Even when Dak Prescott was leading the Cowboys to their fun season in 2016, it was bittersweet to watch Romo sit on the sidelines in silence.

This was supposed to be his team, but even he knows we don’t all get what we want.

Tony Romo is and always will be a brilliant story. I wrote a book about the guy, which, needless to say, is priced to sell now.

He is a good person who comes from a wonderfully charming, modest family in a small town that is Burlington, Wis. He is a guy you root for for the right reasons.

You buy his No. 9 jersey knowing he won’t embarrass you.

But this story will not include the Super Bowl with the Cowboys he coveted, or the playoff wins needed by all NFL quarterbacks as validation. Wherever he lands, preferably Denver or Houston, that Super Bowl just may not be a part of his story.

His real achievement will not be a Super Bowl, but rather that he made it here at all.

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

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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