Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is retiring from the NFL and moving immediately into a broadcasting job with CBS.
According to reports, Romo – who was officially released by the Cowboys on April 4 – will be taking over as CBS’s lead NFL analyst, replacing another former Pro Bowl quarterback in Phil Simms. Romo will be joining play-by-play man Jim Nantz as part of the broadcast team for Thursday night and Sunday games next season.
While it’s no surprise that Romo and the Cowboys have parted ways – rookie QB Dak Prescott impressed as the Dallas starter last season after Romo went down with injuries – there are plenty of teams out there that seemingly could use a veteran quarterback with Romo’s skills. The Cowboys delayed his release in an effort to possibly put a trade together while also giving Romo some more time to consider his future and that of his family.
It’s the end of an era, one that will likely not be remembered quite as fondly as it probably ought to be.
Romo joined the Cowboys in 2004 as an undrafted and unheralded free agent out of Eastern Illinois. He wound up taking over as the starter for Dallas during the 2006 season, and for the next eight years he was one of the better quarterbacks in football before spending most of the past two seasons off the field due to injury.
Romo has spent most of his career haunted by the notion that he can’t win the big one, largely due to being at the helm of some mediocre teams. He made the playoffs four times, but only managed a 2-4 record. His most memorable playoff moment is one that happened in his first postseason game back in 2006 – a botched hold on a kick that would have led to a Cowboys victory over Seattle.
However, that assessment isn’t particularly fair. There’s no denying that Romo has earned a prominent place in football history. He retires as the most prolific passer in Dallas Cowboys history with over 34,000 yards – about 1,200 more than runner-up Troy Aikman. He’s far and away the leader in passing touchdowns with 248, outstripping Aikman’s total by more than 80. He’s sixth all-time in games played for the franchise and third among QBs. He’s also surprisingly high on some significant NFL lists as well. He retires as the 29th all-time leading passer in league history and sits in 21st place on the passing TDs list.
Unfortunately, his tenure will be defined by his inability to win a Super Bowl for one of the NFL’s most storied teams. Despite the fact that he spent most of his prime surrounded by inferior talent thanks to the general ineptitude of owner/GM Jerry Jones, Romo is the one who shoulders the blame for that stretch of mediocrity. His reputation for fragility and choking isn’t borne out by the numbers. He played in all 16 games four times and in 15 twice before breaking down in 2015 and 2016. And he mounted 25 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career – good for 14th all-time.
There’s no doubt that Romo is going to be VERY good in the booth. Hell, he’ll probably be better than Simms on day one. One assumes that he’s at peace with his decision to walk away – if he really wanted to play, there’s no doubt that he could find a place to do so in today’s QB-starved NFL. And who knows? Come November, he might wind up suiting up as some injury-plagued team’s emergency contingency plan.
But for now, it’s the end of the road for Romo, a quarterback who was a far better player than most people will ultimately remember him.