What made the Dallas Cowboys America’s Team was winning with a cast of names that are the best in the history of the sport — Bob Lilly, Don Meredith, Randy White, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Rayfield Wright, et all.
If those men are the standard, ask yourself if the newest member of the Dallas Mavericks, Tony Romo, belongs in a group that includes Tex Schramm, Tom Landry and a total of 19 players, 14 of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
The obvious answer is no. Fair or not, Romo presided over the least successful decade of the Cowboys in its history and yet in a few years he will be canonized for it. There is no way Jerry Jones is not putting his buddy in his ring.
“Should Tony Romo be in the Ring of Honor? I say yes. How do you not have him in the Ring of Honor?” former Cowboys quarterback Danny White said in a phone interview on Saturday morning. “The guy holds every passing record in team history, and highest quarterback rating. This is the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, not the Hall of Fame. This has nothing to do with me.”
If White is OK with it, so should the rest of us.
This is not a case against Romo but a lobbying effort for Danny. Because, as I’ve opined previously, if you are going to put in Romo you must include White.
We are not talking about Canton, just the Cowboys. History has a way of softening many of yesterday’s imperfections, and considering the circumstances of the timeline of the franchise, Romo will deserve his day. So too does White. And Jimmy Johnson. And Gil Brandt. So will DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten.
If/when Jerry puts Romo into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, it will, unintentionally, acknowledge a lowering of the standards for what made the Cowboys America’s Team. What we did not know, or just took for granted, was maintaining that standard was not plausible.
What the Ring should be is a recognition of the best of a good era of a franchise, of which Romo is.
“If you ask me about Romo, I say yes. If you ask me if I deserve it? I don’t know,” White said. “I don’t know if I played long enough. I did play in two Super Bowls, and if it wasn’t for a fingertip tackle on Drew Pearson (in the 1981 NFC title game), I’d like to think we would have won. But that’s life. That’s football.
“I only had five seasons where I started and finished, and I am very proud of those seasons. I had a short time to start, but those were quality years and I am proud of them. A lot of great memories.”
In a work-stoppage filled NFL career, White led the Cowboys to a .674 winning percentage with five winning records, four 10-plus win seasons, five playoff berths, five playoff wins, and three straight NFC title games.
In 10 years as the starting QB of the Cowboys, Romo had a .614 winning percentage with five winning records, three 10-plus win seasons and two playoff wins.
Romo had the benefit of not having to follow Troy Aikman. Guys like Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Drew Henson, Clint Stoerner, Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe did that for Romo, and thus lowered the standards.
White had the misfortune of immediately following Staubach.
“It was something that I never understood, how everyone kept talking about living up to the standard Roger set,” said White, who also averaged better than 40 yards per punt on 610 attempts. “Roger would be the first one to tell you that he didn’t set the standard but it was the team.”
With a better team, the standard set by Staubach and Aikman was Super Bowls. With a decent team, the standard for Danny White was NFC title games. With an erratic team, the standard for Romo was the playoffs.
In their own way, all of those quarterbacks were reflective of their respective teams and eras of the franchise.
The Ring of Honor is Jerry’s toy, and he often says he is merely a steward of the franchise. If he means it, he can’t just put in the people he likes. That’s why Brandt needs to recognized, the same for Jimmy and Danny, too.
“I don’t sit around all day and think about it,” White, 65, said. “Would it be an honor? Absolutely. It would be a huge honor. But I don’t know.”
Before you put in Romo, Jerry, be sure to tell White, “Yes, Danny, yes!”