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Tony Romo: More Than A Quarterback

Updated on April 11, 2017

Tony Romo On The Sideline Addressing Teammates

The Beginning

Tony Romo was born in San Diego, California but when he was 2 years-old his family moved to the small town of Burlington, Wisconsin. As a youngster, as with all boys growing up within throwing distance of Green Bay, he was a Green Bay Packers fan. He followed the exploits of the Packers and when he decided to play football naturally he tried to model his game after the great quarterbacks that had played for Green Bay like Bart Starr. In his youth Brett Favre was the quarterback. Romo liked Favre's gunslinger style of playing and did his best to adopt that style of play for himself.

Growing up Tony was pretty much a normal kid and led a pretty normal life. He did the usual things that kids did. There was nothing strange or out of the ordinary that he experienced except when he started to play organized sports. That is when life changed in a way that he probably never imagined that it would.

Romo Talking About Basketball and Football

Coming Of Age

When Tony Romo started to compete in sports he soon discovered that he had above average athletic ability. That ability served him well on the football field especially since he was emulating a scrambling, elusive, risk-taking style.

Romo didn't start at quarterback on his high school team until his junior year. But once he got on the field he immediately began to assert himself. Although his exploits in football were well known locally they didn't necessarily translate to the national recruiting scene. In reality at the time he was a better basketball player than a football player. As a starting point guard he earned all-county honors as a senior point guard.

In fact in a recent article on former NBA player Caron Butler made the proclamation that Romo could have made it as a professional basketball player. Butler was a fellow member of the All-Racine County basketball team and said that the former Dallas quarterback was a natural scorer who could handle the ball very well. In his senior year Romo averaged 24 points, 8 rebounds and nearly 5 (4.7) assists per game. And he finished as his school's all time leading scorer. Romo later also turned out to be a very good golfer who many felt had the skill to become a professional but that was not to be.

His heart was in football.

Tony Romo At Eastern Illinois University

Building The Road To Fame

Major football programs didn't come knocking on Romo's door so he ended up taking a partial scholarship offer to Division I-AA Eastern Illinois University. At Eastern Romo put in a lot of time working on his game to improve his overall play. The hard work paid off earning him the Walter Payton Award as the country's top Division I-AA player. During his senior year Romo passed for 3,165 yards and threw for 34 touchdowns. But as good as these numbers may sound they still didn't earn him a spot in the 2003 NFL draft.

After slipping through the draft Romo received interest as a free agent from several teams and after weighing his options he settled on the Dallas Cowboys.

Drew Henson, Quincy Carter and Tony Romo Left to Right

How 'Bout That Cowboy?

After joining the Cowboys Romo found himself fighting for a spot on the team's roster. As an undrafted rookie he knew he had an uphill climb ahead of him but he tackled the task with vigor and determination.

One thing Romo had in his favor was his exceptional athletic ability. The basketball point guard skills that he honed in high school served him well when he found himself in perilous situations in training camp. He was raw but nonetheless he made an impression on then head coach, Bill Parcells. The coach saw something in him that the NFL combine and the draft stats sheet didn't show. In Parcells mind he passed the eye test.

Tony Romo Joins The Cowboys

Watch And Learn

Romo made the team his rookie year and spent the season primarily on the sidelines watching and learning. He did see some playing time in the preseason and in a few games during the regular season but for the most part he was watching from the sidelines.

Coming back for his second season was different. Romo was more confident and felt like he had a good chance of getting more playing time. He was more acquainted with the playbook and he had a better understanding of the NFL game.

And apparently it showed because early on in his sophomore campaign teammates like Darren Woodson were saying he was the best quarterback on the team. But getting more playing time wouldn't be easy because he was fourth on the depth chart behind Quincy Carter, Drew Henson and Vinnie Testeverde. Off-the-field problems with Carter, however, led to his being cut from the team which thinned out the ranks and made room for Romo to move up the depth chart.

Unfortunately Romo's playing time pretty much remained the same in 2004. Testeverde and henson split the bulk of the snaps leaving Romo to continue to watch and learn.

The following year in 2005 Dallas decided to let go of Testeverde, who had only signed for one year anyway, and bring in Drew Bledsoe another veteran who had been released from the Buffalo Bills. Bledsoe seemed to be the answer for a while as Dallas started the season at 7-3 but only won 2 more games afterward and finished 9-7 missing the playoffs.

The next year in 2006 Romo came into camp knowing that his NFL clock was ticking and that unless he made a very favorable impression he was probably going to be released. This is exactly what his coach Bill Parcells was thinking and because of that he gave Romo the chance to show what he could do by starting him the second preseason game. For the first time Romo held the reins and was in charge of the first team offense.

From Undrafted Rookie To Starter

Its My Turn Now

The first game Tony Romo started as a Dallas Cowboy was that preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks and according to his coach he played well. Romo controlled the team and showed that he could probably handle playing in the NFL.

Later on that year in the 7th regular season game against the New York Giants Romo was inserted when Coach Parcells become displeased with Drew Bledsoe's performance. In that game Romo didn't play exceptionally well but he didn't play terribly either which left the coaching staff in a position to make a decision going forward. And the decision they made was to go with Romo.

Over the next six games the Cowboys compiled a 5-1 record but after that finished 1-3. They didn't win the division but still made the playoffs where they lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the first game. The rest as they say, is history. Romo went on to be the starting quarterback for Dallas for the next 10 years until injuries forced him to retire just recently.

The way that Tony Romo exited his playing career was undoubtedly not the way he had wanted or envisioned it but it probably was the right decision for him to make. he missed considerable playing time over the last two years of his career and was showing signs that his overall health might have been at risk.

During his time as a starting quarterback Romo showed flashes of brilliance while at the same time showing many instances of mediocrity. In his time as Dallas' signal caller the Cowboys only won two playoff games and Romo received the brunt of the blame for that. Whether it was his fault or not he was always held responsible for that abysmal record.

The opinions of Tony Romo range from "elite" to "bum" depending on who you talk to but one thing is for sure: You either love him or you hate him. There is no in between.

Tony Romo was more than a quarterback. He was a natural athlete who chose football over other sports but more than that Tony Romo was an NFL novelty. He was one of a kind.

Tony Romo warming up with the Dallas Mavericks before the last regular season game of 2017

The Decision Is Yours

Was Tony Romo a top tier quarterback?

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