Thursday, November 27, 2014
The Underappreciated Tony Romo
Antonio Ramiro Romo. The name brings up mostly negative reactions from sports fans and critics alike. Why do people dislike Tony Romo so much? If you resent the Dallas Cowboys because they receive too much attention (usually undeserved), I can understand that sentiment. But what I consistently observe from Cowboys "haters" is that they take pleasure when Romo plays bad (which is rare) or when he's hurt. Even Cowboys "fans" were ready to discard him for Johnny Manziel, and make him the scapegoat for every loss. Why does Romo bring out these emotions in people?
Tony Romo is not without his faults as a player, but he's an elite quarterback. I can say that with confidence because there is not a measurement for quarterbacks in which he does not rank well in. He hasn't had the playoff success you'd like, but that's a team achievement. Tony Romo has spent much of his career on Cowboys teams that have constantly been in salary cap trouble and have compounded that by constantly giving out bad contracts. The tide seems to be changing recently, but as a result, Romo has spent much of his career playing on very flawed teams. There has been several seasons (Top-5 worst defense in league history last year), where his play has kept the Cowboys from being a bottom-feeder.
Tony Romo represents everything that is good about sports. Small town kid, with humble beginnings. Allegedly, as a youth he rode his bike in the snow in Wisconsin to sporting events (He was a 4-sport star). From there he went to Eastern Illinois, where he won the Walter Payton Award for best player in 1-AA. Despite his outstanding collegiate career, Romo went undrafted and signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Take a quick look at the quarterbacks drafted over him. For 3 years he was on the verge of washing out the league as Quincy Carter, Drew Henson, Chad Hutchinson, and older versions of Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe kept him at the bottom of the depth chart. Romo worked on his craft, and received a couple of breaks (he probably would have been the odd man out if Quincy Carter didn't fail a drug test), and ultimately rose to the top of the depth chart. The rest is history. As a player he has been given absolutely nothing. In an era of entitlement in sports, that speaks volumes.
You aren't interested in another underdog story, you say? Well what about the fact that Romo has never been in any type of trouble. His toughness can never be questioned as he's played through an assortment of injuries. I've never seen an interview where he has thrown his teammates or coaches "under the bus" despite having several reasons to over the years. Despite media backlash, he has always been cordial and respectful. He's never disrespected the game of football or a fellow opponent. He's never taken the opportunity to take shots at people who have taken shots at him. He has always been accountable for his play, and has taken accountability for teammates errors as well. If you told me to combine everything I wanted in an athlete, that guy might end up being similar to Tony Romo.
So why doesn't Romo receive the dues that his production warrants. I don't know the answer to that question. In many ways, Romo is more of an underdog than even Tom Brady. Brady was highly recruited, and played at powerhouse Michigan before an unimpressive combine dropped him into the 6th round of the draft. He gets credit for being a classic underdog and deservedly so, but why doesn't Romo. Can he not be a successful story as long as he plays for "America's Team"? Once again, I don't know the answer to that, but what I do know is that Romo is having an MVP caliber year. Casual fans probably would not have known because I don't recall if any mainstream media outlets have even mentioned him for the award. Right now his quarterback rating is 111.4, which is second only to Aaron Rodgers. Improved offensive line play and large doses of DeMarco Murray has helped his play. Of course it has, but Romo also put up quarterback ratings over 100 running for his life behind makeshift o-lines and with no running support either. Romo suffers from confirmation bias of the fans and media. People formed their opinion of him a long time ago, and never objectively changed it. So they wait for him to make a mistake or play a bad game. Although it rarely happens, when it does that's when they come out of hiding, joyously shouting, "Look, I told you Romo wasn't really all that good"(Stephen A. Smith, I'm looking directly at you). They cling to his lowlights, despite the fact that his highlights drastically outnumber the former.
Wrapping this up, Tony Romo has been a great player throughout his career. He hasn't been perfect, but he's definitely a quarterback you should be excited to go to battle with. At the very least, Dallas Cowboys fans should at least appreciate him. Or maybe we've taken him for granted and have forgotten that Tony Romo saved us from mediocrity. I remember Anthony Wright, Clint Stoerner, Hutchinson, Henson, Carter, and Ryan Leaf. Without Romo, we may have toiled in a dark place for a decade much like the 49ers did before Harbaugh. Tony Romo does not have to be your favorite quarterback, but enough is enough. Start giving the man the respect that he has earned. Keep on hating the Dallas Cowboys. As a fan of another team, that is your right, but when it comes to Antonio Ramiro Romo there should be some appreciation.
Extra Thought: I used to dislike Romo seemingly nonchalant attitude, but I've come to respect him as someone who has a great sense of priority and what's important in life as I've gotten older. The following quote is well-stated.