Tony Romo is a "marked" man. Not only by opposing players, but by his own team too. Though not directed solely at him, Jerry Jones' remark about the window of opportunity closing on some of his key players left no doubt in people's minds that he was talking about his quarterback. There are some fans who feel or have always felt that Romo's presence behind center should have ended a long time ago. You wouldn't get them to admit that back in 2006 when Bill Parcells mercifully ended Drew Bledsoe's career by pulling him at half time against the Giants, giving the reins to the eager, undrafted free agent from Michigan State. The Cowboys went on to lose that game, but appetites were whet with anticipation after watching the raw, unproven Romo tantalize and discourage at the same time.
Most figured coach Bill Parcells could and would work his magic, taming the often impulsive youngster. It might have worked if not for a dreary January night in Seattle when a highly suspect and shiny ball slipped through Romo's fingers on a chip shot of a field goal as he was holding for the game winning score, ultimately costing the Cowboys the game, 21-20.
Parcells left after that season; the thought of losing was just too much for him. Had he stayed one more year, it was quite possible that he could have taken that teamÂ—with Romo at the helmÂ—all the way to the Super Bowl; the trip to Cabo an afterthought, if it would have happened at all.
Unfortunately, everything Romo has done up til now, as far as stats, playing through pain, and the constant barrage of criticism, most of it overblown, from his teammates, fans, and now Jerry Jones has been over-looked entirely. The man has literally spit blood for his team, yet is arguably the least popular player in the National Football League.
There aren't many who would disagree that just playing for the Dallas Cowboys is difficult enough; playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is probably the most difficult position in all of sports. When you have two champions like Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman to live up to, as well as some of the most unforgiving fans in the world, the pressure to succeed is like nothing short of being trapped in a submersible, 5 miles deep in the ocean with a small crack in the nine-inch glass. Welcome to Tony Romo's world.
If you ask Romo he will tell you the window is not closing. "It's not closing," he said, "I think there's a sense of urgency every year that you play; whether it's your first year in the league or your 22nd."
Make no mistake; the Cowboys' current quarterback knows what's at stakeÂ—his career, his legacy, even his future after footballÂ—where he will end up in the annals of NFL history. The Dallas Cowboys all but ran "Dandy" Don Meredith out-of-town for his inability to propel this team to the Super Bowl. Except that Meredith was very popular, even his own teammates, whereas Romo is treated like a disease by much of the NFL and its media.
Football is the ultimate team sport, emphasizing the word team. Just ask 3-time Super Bowl champion Troy Aikman; he firmly stands by his support of Romo, saying that "... Tony is already a better quarterback than I was. I know how quarterbacks are judged, but as far as his play-making ability and the things that he is capable of doing, he is a far more athletic quarterback, capable of making more plays than I ever was able to."
So what's the real question here? Whose fault is it that Romo's already 32 years old and hasn't hoisted the Lombardi Trophy (at least before Jones' rips it out of his hands, ala Barry Switzer)? First and foremost, ever since Aikman's last few brutal, concussion-filled years, the team has been mediocre at best. When Jimmy Johnson left, so did his eye for talent. Jerry Jones made his fortune in oil, but it's painfully obvious those skills didn't follow him to the Cowboys' numerous, disappointing drafts.
Statistically, 2011 was Romo's best year, throwing for 4184 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. But a defense giving up the most points in team history will make any quarterback look worse than they are.
The Cowboys had only five rushing touchdowns in 2011, finishing 8-8 to the New York Giants' 17 rushing touchdowns; they finished 9-7, going on to win Super Bowl 46.
Ultimately, in the NFL a player is judged not by stats alone, but playoff wins and Super Bowls; the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys is by no means an exception to the rule, bt no quarterback can do it alone. Perhaps Jerry Jones is finally seeing the big pictureÂ—he stinks as a GM. Jimmy Johnson knew that a strong defense, a big, fast offensive line and a powerful running game are key components in building a championship caliber team. Troy Aikman played on such a team; Romo hasn't.
In Romo's six years as starter, the Dallas Cowboys have won games in spite of themselves; Romo being the catalyst in many of those victories, winning more games than losing them. When the window does finally close on Tony Romo and there wasn't a trophy to hoist, Romo will go down as a failure; that's the harsh reality of the situation. Those with at least a little football savvy will realize that not many quarterbacks in Romo's era could have done any better playing under the same circumstances, including playing for Jerry Jones.