Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin Take Shots at Tony Romo: Can We Just Ignore Them?

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 31, 2012

Feb 5, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Deion Sanders (left) and Michael Irvin at the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame announcement show at the Super Bowl XLV media center at the International Conference and Exposition Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Unsurprisingly, Tony Romo Hate Week is off to a fast start. On Sunday night for instance, two former Dallas Cowboys superstars took separate shots at the Dallas quarterback on NFL Network. 

First, here's what Irvin had to say, per the Los Angeles Times:

Jerry Jones said it earlier, if you're not in the playoffs, it's not a successful season. I'm never going to say 8-8 is a success, not a guy who holds three rings. Playing hard is good. Winning is better. You watch all these guys, Robert Griffin III, Eli Manning, Michael Vick -- these are top quarterbacks, drafted in top spots, they know and feel like they belong in that situation. Tony Romo is the only undrafted QB in the East and sometimes, in those moments, he feels like, 'I have to prove to everybody I belong here,' and tries to do so much and that gets him into trouble.

Yeah, because Vick has been so good in big moments, right? I'm sick and tired of quarterbacks taking far too much of the blame for the failures of their teams. Romo wasn't 8-8, the Cowboys were 8-8. The 53 men on the roster, the eight men on the practice squad, the coaching staff and the front office were 8-8. 

The Cowboys fell short in 2012 despite Romo being great the majority of the time, not because Romo struggled at one particular time. His timing was poor, but this is on the depleted defense and the running game and poor pass protection more so than Romo.

Here's what Sanders said:

How many times are we going to sit here as fans and say, 'Here we go again?' I love to win at all costs. 1-6 in elimination games, that's telling me something is not getting better around here. The kind of person I am, I need to jump off and try to correct this thing.... I can't put this one thing all on Tony. But Tony brings me to the same situation at the conclusion of every year. Take a picture, this date, and see if we're playing the same picture next year. We always think it's going to get better, but it's the same-old same-old.

I guess I shouldn't be shocked that both Irvin and Sanders are taking the easy road in their analysis. That's what the majority of ex-athlete talking heads do. Their TV gigs keep them in the spotlight, but guys like Irvin and Sanders continually make the kinds of "uh, duh..." statements that cause you to realize they do almost no homework. 

I do think both Dallas football legends know their Cowboys, but I think it's too easy to point a finger at the quarterback who threw the three Week 17 interceptions and pin a failed season on him. Irvin knows damn well that there's a lot more to a pick than what meets the untrained eye.

It appeared Kevin Ogletree screwed up his route on the first interception, but you never hear about that. He was under extreme pressure from a completely unblocked rusher on the third pick, but the offensive line is pretty much unscathed today.

Romo didn't play well, but he was put in that spot at the end because his defense couldn't stop a rookie running back and couldn't avoid getting fooled over and over again by the read-option. DeMarcus Ware was embarrassed by Robert Griffin III all night. He's paid just as handsomely as Romo and is supposed to be a game-changing defender. Where's the criticism there? Why isn't Ware being dumped on for the Cowboys' 8-8 record? Why aren't we talking about his inability to win elimination games? 

We have to stop copping out and resorting to tired, flawed storylines that are far too broad for a nuanced game. This is a team sport, and Irvin and Sanders know that well. This is just another reason to tune them out.