To football fans, Tony Romo’s name means many different things.
Most view him incapable in the clutch, destined to forever exist as a fantasy football god and nothing more. Others envision the Dallas Cowboys quarterback on par with the aforementioned elite, possessing enough skill and mental toughness to capture a championship for America’s Team.
The 6’2’’gunslinger has never encountered a problem racking up gaudy statistics throughout his career (Romo’s 96.9 career passer rating ranks second all time). By the time his career is over, Romo’s numbers might even compare to some of the game’s all-time greats (cut to millions of Cowboy’s fans sadly shaking their heads).
Imagine a scenario 15 years in the future: A young Dallas Cowboy’s fan, fueled by deceiving stats, concludes that the man responsible for several of the worst choke jobs in NFL history, an 8-13 December record, and this abomination belongs above legends Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach on the Cowboys’ quarterbacking totem pole. Preposterous, but disturbingly possible.
As an eyewitness to the Tony Romo era, I feel obligated to report on the NFL’s most polarizing force this side of Tebow.
During a majority of any regular-season game, the Cowboys’ quarterback slices up defenses like a Thanksgiving turkey, converting sure sacks into first downs, turning nothing into something behind his porous offensive line.
But time after time, when the bread needs buttering, Cowboys fans find themselves purple in the face, hurling obscenities at Romo that would make Bob Knight blush.
It’s those moments when I know Tony Romo will never be a super bowl caliber quarterback.
Has any starting quarterback ever cost his team the game because of a botched hold in the final minute and a half of a one-point game? And think about that game’s effect on a young Tony Romo’s crunch-time psyche. Jordan Babineaux was chasing me in nightmares two weeks after the loss.
For every string of elite games he puts together, Romo seems inevitably doomed to submit a Seahawks-esque blunder.
Could you imagine any one of the six “elite” quarterbacks throwing five interceptions (including two pick-sixes) and losing a fumble on Monday Night Football like Romo did in 2007 against the Buffalo Bills?
Could you ever fathom Tom Brady or Drew Brees squandering a 27-3 third-quarter lead by throwing two interceptions in a span of three throws that both resulted in touchdowns? There’s one Romo record that may never be broken. The chance that Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning would be culpable for such a performance is probably about the same as Tim Tebow’s name appearing on Sam Hurd’s list.
Strangely, it’s not Tony Romo’s numerous on-field disappointments that bother me the most. At the end of the day, I question his will to win.
With the possible exception of Ben Roethlisberger, the NFL’s “elite” quarterbacks all share one strikingly similar qualities: They need football like they need to eat, breathe or sleep. They need football to keep them from going insane. They need football like the Kardashians need fame.
Tony Romo doesn't seem to be cut from the same cloth. During the offseason, hyper-competitive athletes go to Germany for knee surgery that is illegal in America and generally devote their sole purpose of existence to refining any minute detail in their game (see: Tom Brady, this offseason).
Attempting to qualify for PGA tour events probably isn’t on Peyton Manning’s agenda. And could you imagine Manning’s expression when his starlet girlfriend asked to take a midseason vacation to Cabo not long before his first career playoff appearance? Would this hypothetical starlet girlfriend have cried after Manning never even looked up from the game film he was watching for the 47th time that week?
Romo’s desire to win doesn’t seem like it could ever resemble any of the current elite QBs. Coupled with his remarkable history of un-clutch moments, a Super Bowl win seems highly unlikely for Tony Romo.
And it is this reason why the Cowboy’s should begin to search for Romo’s replacement via free agency or the draft.
Cowboys’ fans will never be satisfied with anything less than a championship. Tony Romo has shown enough to prove he isn’t capable of delivering Dallas to the Promised Land like those before him.
Now, it’s time to be on the lookout for someone who can.