Mac Engel

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones too old for rookie quarterback

Jerry Jones expects Tony Romo to be the Cowboys quarterback for the next four or five years.
Jerry Jones expects Tony Romo to be the Cowboys quarterback for the next four or five years. Star-Telegram

He reclined in his party bus to address the handful of reporters about his team and for the first time the second-most famous person Arkansas ever produced looked like an older man.

Jerry Jones is 73 and for the first time he looks it.

Two days later, on Monday afternoon at Tarrant County College before a room full of supporters and on-lookers, Arkansas’ most famous ex-president sounded considerably older than ever before. Former president Bill Clinton looks and sounds older than 69.

Four years separate these two titans whose respective impact on sports and America are eternal. No matter how much you may loathe them, their ambition, charm and hard work are difficult not to admire. We may never hear such accents again.

Despite their years both men retain their uncanny ability to command a microphone and a room, yet neither is quite the same when they were in their respective prime. That is why we see Stephen Jones with greater frequency and it is a contributing factor why the team will pass on selecting a quarterback with the fourth overall pick in the draft.

Jerry has admitted that you never know how many more days you have left. He doesn’t want to spend them watching a rookie quarterback throw another stupid interception, so that is why he says Tony Romo is his quarterback for the next four to five years.

The Cowboys are in win-now mode because Jerry is like any person at his age — take advantage of what you have while it’s there. You never know when it’s going to be gone.

He went through hell to find Romo and he’s not about to put him on the bench in favor of Paxton Lynch, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff or any other unproven rookie.

Even if the Cowboys feel one of those three are the best player available with the fourth overall pick, the Cowboys won’t be taking them. They don’t have time.

It’s too bad because if any upper-tier quarterback in the NFL can handle a legit, young backup on his team it’s Romo.

Of Jerry’s recent run of risks, this remains his greatest. Romo is a 35-year-old quarterback who gets hurt a lot with no viable young option on the roster. Kellen Moore doesn’t count.

The success of the team remains linked to Romo’s fragile body, which could snap in two, again, at any moment.

Over the weekend, when Jerry spoke with a handful of reporters on his bus outside of the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the first order of business remains Romo, Romo and Romo. Jerry remains upbeat about his quarterback because that’s what he does.

Take this to Vegas: The Cowboys will draft a defensive player at No. 4. They will draft a quarterback in the later rounds, which given this franchise’s ability to fill that position, will be the next Stephen McGee. Or worse. Maybe Quincy Carter.

Johnny Manziel’s legal troubles are going to prevent him from coming to the Cowboys, and there appears to be scant interest in Robert Griffin III, either.

The Cowboys will sign a veteran, such as former Texas star Colt McCoy or Southlake’s Chase Daniel, to be the No. 2. The developmental guy will be a Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott type of project.

And if Romo remains healthy this is not a bad plan; McCoy is an upgrade over Matt Cassel.

Romo has said if the best player available is a quarterback at four they should take him. He’s lying but believe him.

Teams often shy away from drafting a quarterback for fear of alienating Their Guy. Packers quarterback Brett Favre was irate when the team selected Aaron Rodgers in the first round in 2005; that worked out pretty well. The Saints have never really tried with Drew Brees and the same for San Diego and Philip Rivers.

The Patriots, however, have the best quarterback of this era, and they selected Ryan Mallett in the third round in 2011. They drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round in 2014.

If any current proven Pro Bowl quarterback could take that type of attention, it is Romo.

While the pressure will initially be a shock to his system, his experience makes him qualified to deal with it. He’s been that guy before when he was behind Drew Bledsoe, and he knows the routine.

Going back to his high school days at Burlington, Wis., the one thing he has never done in his football life is deal with a threat looking over his shoulder.

Romo was the starter in high school with no viable threat to take his job. When he was at Eastern Illinois, he was a partial-scholarship guy who worked his way up and past the expected starter. Since he became the starting quarterback for the Cowboys in ’06, there has never been a player who made him uncomfortable ... other than Terrell Owens.

The team drafted former Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee in the fourth round of the Great Draft Disaster of 2009; that was the year the Cowboys selected 12 players, none of whom were any good. McGee tried and he looked the part, but he could not feel the game and was not much of a prospect.

Tony has never had a guy standing on the sideline as the cameras pan to watch the QB-in-waiting. Tony has never had a guy the fans, or the organization, wanted to see play in a serious game.

It’s been a steady stream of Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, Kyle Orton or Brandon Weeden types — players no one wanted to see play, including their own families.

Tony could handle it, but he won’t have to worry about that this year. The Cowboys are not going to select his replacement with the fourth overall pick.

This team simply doesn’t have time because the owner is 73 and he does not want to spend his days watching a rookie when he could be watching Romo.

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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