The Big Mac Blog

Romo’s offseason: Get over it or get tough

Tony Romo’s destination for 2017 remains the biggest unknown in the NFL this offseason.
Tony Romo’s destination for 2017 remains the biggest unknown in the NFL this offseason. jchristopher@star-telegram.com

The Raiders found a new home before Tony Romo did.

Per the assistance of Jerry Jones, the Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. With no help from Jerry Jones, Tony Romo has not found a new home. And now he’s keeping score, too.

Per a Tweet by Jane Slater of the NFL Network, “Tony Romo has taken situation very personally in Dallas and has distanced himself from teammates and coach who were ‘Team Dak’ per source.”

Believe this. Because Tony has always been keeping score.

It was Romo who several years ago sat at his locker and declared: "This team’s gonna win a Super Bowl at some point. And it’s gonna be exciting when that time comes. And when we look back, we’ll know who was on what side of the fence during the tough times.”

This was a shot/threat at any critic who dared knock his play. This was a large reason why so many members of the local media wouldn’t go too far in on criticizing Romo.

If he wants to ever enter the broadcast booth, which reports indicate both Fox and CBS want him as an NFL analyst, he best thicken his skin. This isn’t personal, Tony, even if it feels like it.

Since Tony Romo began playing quarterback at Burlington High School in Wisconsin, he never really “got it” from the media or fans. He didn’t at Eastern Illinois. As an undrafted free agent, anything he did for the Cowboys was a gift.

There were no expectations for Romo, so accordingly any criticism was muted compared to that reserved for a first round draft pick. And when Romo became the starting quarterback in 2006, it was a 24/7 love fest.

The only one who ever truly criticized Romo was his former and first NFL head coach, Bill Parcells. Bill could say anything he wanted and get away with it. To anyone. Because he didn’t care.

Romo’s ensuing coaches, from Jason Garrett to Wade Phillips and the rest, were all tied to their QB. Any criticism had to be soft, to non-existent.

Some guys are conditioned to it and can deal it better than others. Peyton Manning was notoriously thin-skinned, whether it was about his interceptions or his brother, Eli. The best way to deal with it by just not watching or listening, which is much easier said than done.

Romo would preach “in one year, out the other” but in reality he heard what was said and written, and it got to him. He’s only human.

The biggest lie we tell our children, among so many, is “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Bones heal quickly while the heart can take decades before it returns to normal. If it ever does.

The way the last year played out, of course Romo is going to be disappointed and upset. To hold it against his teammates, whose mission it is to win the next game, is unfair. To blame his head coach, whose mission it is to win the next game, is equally preposterous.

It’s the NFL. It’s life. No one is dying here.

"Oh, Tony, this isn’t Russia. Is this Russia? This isn’t Russia, is it? I didn’t think so."

Feel it, and then let it go.

To blame anyone who wanted Dak Prescott to succeed is immature, and beneath Romo. As a teammate, you pick the guy who will help you win right now. That’s why so many people wanted Romo over Drew Bledsoe in 2006.

And if Romo is sincere about his post-career NFL playing life including a broadcast booth, he best prepare for a life of criticism. Specifically, in dishing it.

Former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman and former Bengals wide receiver Chris Collinsworth are two of the best NFL analysts specifically because they are not afraid to call it how they see it. That includes ripping players, officials or calls.

Collinsworth is outstanding at it as is Aikman.

Entering the booth is one of the most difficult transitions for a former player. They likely hated media criticism when they played, and are uncomfortable offering their disapproval during a game of players they just shared a field or a locker room.

That is the gig. If you are going to be good in the booth, you must be opinionated and offer sincere insight. And then you better prepare for everyone disagreeing with you.

If any of this is going to work, Tony should just put down the scoreboard and let it go.

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Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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