Since 2007, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has been the subject of much deserved (and undeserved) scrutiny, along with most quarterbacks in the NFL. With the silver and blue star on his helmet, however, Romo commands more scrutiny than any other NFL quarterback could ever imagine.
In 2006, Romo, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Eastern Illinois, took over the full-time QB position for the Dallas Cowboys by replacing Drew Bledsoe. He led the Cowboys to the playoffs that year, but a fumbled snap on a game-winning field goal attempt and the ensuing dive for the end zone that left him a few feet short will forever haunt my memory, as well as his. That year, Cowboys fans felt optimistic about the things to come; since then he has always been on the invite list for the Top 10 QB party.
We have seen Tony Romo do amazing things, and he has the statistical prowess to prove it. Since I am not a statistician, I won't be going over the numbers on an apples to apples basis; but rest assured, Romo is a top-10 QB, hands down, no questions asked. The "nay-sayers" and antagonists against Romo will cite this so-called "all-important stat" of how many playoff wins he has.
Although Romo has just a single playoff win, he has been one of the most consistent players on the Cowboys roster. The attention and scrutiny that he commands is laughable, because in reality he doesn't care what anyone thinks unless you wear a star on your helmet.
The first football game I remember watching growing up was one the gutsiest performances that anyone has ever seen from a football player. Emmitt Smith vs the New York Giants in the final game of the season, 1993. With a separated shoulder, Smith compiled 168 yards rushing and, to put the cherry on top, caught 10 passes.
No one challenges Emmitt Smith on his heart, skill or dedication. Although he was a major part of the Cowboys dynasty in the 90's, there was also a top-rated defense, a Hall of Fame QB in Troy Aikman and a Hall of Fame WR in Michael Irvin. Emmitt didn't do it alone, and neither can Tony.
In San Francisco last year, Romo was crushed (literally) and broke a rib. Instead of sitting out and letting "Mr. Clean" Jon Kitna take the reins, Romo took a pain-killing injection and endured several hits to his ribs along the path to beating the San Francisco 49ers. His play that day ranks up with Emmitt, but all it took was a few interceptions against the Lions for everyone to remember that Romo is a "choker."
You won't see me in tears, crying "that's my quarterback" if someone bashes a bad decision made by Romo; I'll be the first to point it out to you. I won't cite meaningless statistics, because stats are just stats; have you seen this guy play? With Romo on the field, the Cowboys have a chance each play, each game, and each year to do something special. Last year, the Cowboys were a meager 8-8 because of poor defensive play. This year, maybe it won't be the same old song and dance. Maybe a defense worth its weight in draft picks will bail out Romo when he makes a mistake or a bad decision.
If you think Romo is undeserving of a "top-10 ranking," then show me 10 teams that wouldn't trade their QB for Romo. I can think of six. The Colts and the Redskins (Washington especially; why would you give away the farm to get the prize steed; he has nowhere to grow and no one to help him now) have both invested too much in first-round picks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. The Patriots have Robo-Cop Tom Brady, the Saints have scar-face Drew Brees, the Giants have Mr. "My Daddy doesn't want me to play for San Diego" Manning, and the Packers have (my favorite) Mr. Discount Double Check himself, Aaron Rodgers.
Romo is a top-10 quarterback, even if based only on the logistical reasoning that there are fewer than nine NFL teams that wouldn't trade what they have currently for Tony Romo.