Here at the O’Zone, we frequently find ourselves in heated sports debates. So, like any blogger worth his word processor, the best way to hash it out is with the written word. Each week, a pair of O’Zone writers will take turns defending one side of the latest divisive topics in the sports world, and you, the reader, will determine the winner.
This week, we’re taking on Tony Romo’s star-crossed career. Is it time for the veteran to hang ‘em up, or does the Burlington boy need one last shot?
Point: Tony Romo’s NFL career is over. Or at least it should be.
Tony Romo has had a remarkable NFL career, but it’s time to hang ‘em up. It’s what’s best for Cowboys fans, his family and most importantly, his body.
Over the course of his career, Romo has missed 27 regular season games.
In Week 2 last season, Romo injured his collarbone, forcing him to sit for the next seven games. Romo’s body held up for two more games until he injured the same collarbone, causing him to watch from the sidelines yet again.
Entering the 2016-17 season, fans and analysts alike had high hopes for the Cowboys with a healthy Romo. Those hopes and dreams once again came to a screeching halt when Romo broke a bone in his back during the Cowboys’ third preseason game against the Seahawks.
His brittle body has put the Cowboys in a sticky situation for what feels like the umpteenth time. Fans are growing weary of his lack of durability, and some are even calling for change.
Enter Dak Prescott. No, the 135th overall pick in April’s draft won’t have a seamless transition from preseason to regular season football, but he’s exceeded expectations, completing 39 of 50 passes for 454 yards, five touchdowns and zero turnovers.
All rookie quarterbacks experience bumps in the road, but having the NFL’s best offensive line, Ezekiel Elliot and Dez Bryant is about as good of a situation a rookie can stumble into.
Romo’s hypothetical comeback would come between Weeks 6 and 10. That’d likely be around the time Prescott finally gets into a groove as an NFL starter.
If Romo does indeed come back to play in Week 7, for instance, how confident would you feel in his ability to stay on the field for four quarters?
When Romo decides to retire, he’ll go down as one of the best players in Cowboys history. His résumé isn’t as impressive as many former Dallas greats, but he does have an impressive stat line. He’s the Cowboys’ all-time leader in touchdowns, yards, quarterback rating and completion percentage (minimum 400 attempts).
He’ll never win a Super Bowl, but he doesn’t need one to leave a legacy.
Romo should listen to his body and preserve it for the future.
He has to stop playing the game he loves, before it prevents him from being active with the people he loves.
You’ve had a great 10-year run, Tony. But it’s time.
Counterpoint: Romo has unfinished business
O’Colly Assistant Sports Editor
For Tony Romo, it was never about the accolades.
He couldn’t care less about his stats. He couldn’t care less that he owns almost every Cowboy franchise passing record. He couldn’t care less that he’s among the NFL’s highest paid quarterbacks. It’s nice, sure, but it doesn’t matter to Romo.
Romo understands his position better than anyone in the league. He’s the Dallas Cowboys’ starting quarterback. They might or might not be America’s Team anymore, but they are always in the spotlight, and he is their leader. He has been for 10 seasons. He bore the brunt of that position for better or worse. Through fumbled field goals, fourth-quarter interceptions, broken bones, punctured lungs and a bad call in Green Bay, he took every shot the media and the haters could throw at him.
And he kept coming back for more.
Why should this injury change that? Why not come back one more time?
Romo shouldn’t even be in this position. He’s a statistical outlier – the undrafted rookie who rose to superstardom. Thousands of football players walk Romo’s narrative, but fail to get past the first chapter.
In April 2015, three months after the Cowboys fell to Green Bay in the divisional round of the playoffs, Romo took the stage at the Omni Hotel in Dallas to accept the Nancy Lieberman Lifetime Achievement Award. He spoke candidly about his career and his football mortality.
“I got to the NFL and the first two or three years, it was all about how good I could become,” Romo said. “First I had to make a team, and the it was about could I be the backup? Could I be the starter? Could you be good player? A pro-bowler? A championship player?
“The crazy thing was, that mindset completely shifted and changed in my career. In my first three years it was about what am I going to accomplish, what I was going to do and how great I was going to become. Somewhere in that process, that shifted and it became about ‘we.’”
He ended that speech guaranteeing the Cowboys would win their sixth Super Bowl in the upcoming season.
They wouldn’t. Romo would break his collarbone twice, and the Cowboys would stumble to a 4-12 finish.
At 36, Romo could have quit right there, and nobody would have blamed him. It wouldn’t have changed his legacy. He could have walked away and kept his enormous paycheck.
He came back anyway.
Not for the money. Not for the fans. Not for the records. Not for a bust in the Hall of Fame, or his name in the Cowoys’ Ring of Honor.
He came back because he loves football. Because he loves his teammates. Because he wants to win for them and with them. Because he shouldn’t be there. Because he’s Tony Romo.