Tony Romo is the best quarterback to ever don the Star on his helmet. There, I said it. I got it out of the way.
Many of you will probably stop reading after that first sentence, but that’s OK. You’ve been programed to despise Romo over the past five seasons. We’ve all seen the botched field goal, the playoff losses, the horrid Decembers and Cabo. We’ve watched his untimely interceptions cost his team games and cause his receivers to openly weep.
As I type all this down, I almost want to change my opinion, but I know better.
Tony Romo has been unfairly criticized in his time as a Cowboy. Don’t believe me? Check the stats.
In four full seasons as a starter, Romo, per season, has thrown for more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Danny White and Troy Aikman.
If Romo stays healthy this year, he should hold the record for the most passing touchdowns in Cowboy history, and he will have done it in a little over half the amount of games that Aikman did.
Kliff Kingsbury once told me, “People don’t ask how, they ask how many?” And as far as stats go, Romo is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
“What about late in the game? He chokes,” says an ignorant fan.
This is not entirely true. For every late-game interception, Romo has also been busy keeping his team in games too. Romo has two fewer fourth-quarter comebacks than Roger Staubach, aka Captain Comeback, in 27 fewer games and three fewer than Aikman in half the games. Not exactly the choker he has been made out to be.
Who do you think is the greatest quarterback in Cowboy history?
“Well, then what about his terrible late-season play!” says the same ill-informed fan.
Valid point… four seasons ago. The ride that was the Romo-coaster has straightened out over the past two seasons.
During his 2009 and ’11 late-season and playoff games, Romo threw 19 touchdowns to only three picks and completed 68 percent of his passes, but his team was only 5-7. Of those seven losses, four came due to missed field goals and one Romo sat because of playoff implications and an injury. Get Romo a kicker and a backup, and the Cowboys are 10-2 over that span.
Hell, get Romo any of those players of the caliber that Aikman, Staubach, White or Meredith had. I know that’s easier said than done, but how can we judge Romo’s for his supporting cast when the other QBs got to play with all-time greats?
Meredith, Staubach, White and Aikman all had multiple Hall of Famers by their side. Romo has Demarcus Ware and maybe Jason Witten? If anyone brings up the cancer that was Terrell Owens, they should be strapped to a chair and forced to watch The T.O. Show for a week straight with no commercials.
“But what about all those Pro Bowlers Romo has?” says a different but equally ignorant fan.
Ask anyone, the Pro Bowl doesn’t hold the same clout that it used to. Aaron Rodgers has said it. Roger Goddell has said it. You’ve probably said it. The Pro Bowl is rarely based on merit anymore and has turned into a popularity contest. It’s a miracle Romo has ever made one.
We have romanticized what the former Cowboys QBs have done. Sure, Staubach won Super Bowl VI and XI, but look what he did in the playoffs: 19 games, 19 interceptions 24 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 54.4. Solid, but not spectacular. But of course, Captain Comeback won games, with a 12-6 record and those two Super Bowls.
Aikman won three Super Bowls and 11 of his first 13 playoff games. Now that’s spectacular. Remember the last three games when he wasn’t surrounded by Hall of Famers in their prime? Seven interceptions, one touchdown and a QB rating that sat below the Mendoza line.
Meredith was 1-3 in the postseason, like Romo, but Meredith threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Romo’s stat line? Four TDs, two interceptions. So why is Meredith affectionately known as “Dandy Don” while Romo is the Goat?
Yes, Romo has cost the team some games, but he is now figuring out how to win them for his team. And he’s doing it with a cast of players who knows what the former quarterbacks would have been able to do.
As the cliché goes, football is the ultimate team game, and Romo is doing more with less than all his predecessors. And when it’s all said and done, Romo will go down as the best quarterback in Cowboy history.
Poor Romo. That star on his helmet might as well be a bulls-eye.