What Do Criticisms of Cowboys QB Tony Romo Tell Our Youth?

robert aSenior Analyst IJanuary 23, 2009

"No matter what, if you have tried your hardest and truly given it everything you have you will never disappoint me, because I will know that you did the best you can do."

My Mother (and probably yours too)

The criticisms I have heard of Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo have finally gotten to the point where I can no longer sit quietly.

Quite honestly I am sick and tired of hearing about whether or not Romo can become a leader. Whether he is a vocal leader or not, I have seen the man pick his broken body up off the turf numerous times and lead this team down the field.

I am sick and tired of hearing about how Romo needs to stop being a "celebrity quarterback" because he is dating Jessica Simpson.

I'd personally rather see the guy be with a woman that he loves, despite what everyone else thinks of her, than to be with an ordinary girl that "loves" him for 67 million reasons ($$), and those reasons only.

I am sick and tired of hearing about his Cabo Trip before the New York Giants game last year. I would prefer that my quarterback spend a day relaxing with family and friends on a beach over having my quarterback safely back home in Dallas, strip-club hopping.

Perhaps more than anything, I am sick and tired of hearing that Romo does not care about winning because of a select few things that he said after a heartbreaking season-ending game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Let's look at the atrocious things that Romo said:

  • (Regarding moving forward, next year) "We're going to try to get back in the playoffs and try to win the Super Bowl. That's all you can do. If we don't...OK. If we do...OK."
  • "I've had a lot worse happen to me than a loss in a sporting event, that's for sure. If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me, then I've led a pretty good life."
  • (In response to how he gets over a tough loss) "I wake up tomorrow and keep living."

Are these really statements of apathy, or does Romo just have his life in the right perspective?

When I first heard these words, I was hurting. I just witnessed my favorite sports team lose yet another game to end yet another heartbreaking season. I was upset. No, I was angry!

However, when Romo spoke these words, I didn't think a thing of it. In fact, I agreed with him wholeheartedly. Here was a guy who understood things. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that we were still going to be discussing these words nearly a month later, but here we are...

Our country is in the middle of a war. We are in a recession. There are people who can't pay their bills, men and women with diseases that have no cure, children without parents, and families without homes.

With everything that is going on in this crazy world that we call home, I have come to terms with the fact that the success of my sports teams is not the most important thing in life. Why do more fans not understand this?

Sure, sports, and more specifically football, have become a huge part of my life, and there is almost nothing in the world that I love to do more than to discuss sports, but, at the end of the day, are they really that important?

I understand the criticism of Romo's game. Yes, he has a tendency to be careless with the football and make boneheaded mistakes. It has also been all too well documented that he struggles in big games.

I also see no problem with questioning whether Romo needs to become more of a vocal leader on this team. While I maintain that he has led in other ways, it makes sense to discuss things that Romo can do to help better lead this team.

These are the kinds of Romo discussions I expected heading into the offseason. Instead, we are questioning the heart of a guy who battled as an undrafted rookie free agent to become the starting quarterback of "America's Team."

We are also talking about a quarterback who battled through three different injuries this year, which culminated in him collapsing in the shower due to pain following the final game, but if he could play he played, and he never stopped fighting.

I did not write this article simply to defend Romo, however. He is a big boy and can take care of himself. More importantly than defending Romo's feelings is this: What does the criticisms of Romo's statements tell our youth?

When little Sarah loses a teeball tournament and she trots off the field with tears rolling down her eyes, then she tells you that she's a loser and it is all her fault that her team lost. What are you going to tell her?

What about little Jimmy who missed a last second jumpshot that would have helped his team to win their school district's basketball championship? What are you going to say to him when he comes home and kicks a hole in the wall and breaks his bedroom window with his second place trophy?

Are you going to comfort these kids and let them know that everything will be alright? That life goes on? That there are more important things in life than just a game?

Or, are you going to praise them for getting it? You can tell Sarah that all she has to do is fix the mechanics of her swing, and then those tears will go away.

You can buy Jimmy a new plexiglas window and help him build a bonfire to roast that second-place trophy, and then high-five him and congratulate him for having that winner's mentality.

My point is simple. It is easy to point to Romo's words as evidence as to how he doesn't give a rip about winning, but I watched the guy's interview. He was anything but apathetic.

Yes, the guy was bummed. Yes, he cared. He left it all out on the field. I thought his collapsing in the shower after the game was pretty good evidence to that.

At the end of the day, Romo knew he was playing a game and that life goes on. He knew that if the worst thing that ever happened to him was losing a football game, he is very, very lucky indeed.

In a world that tends to put emphasis on winning and winning only, isn't this the kind of message that we want our young athletes to hear?