By Michael Battista
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo announced his retirement on April 4 after 12 seasons in the NFL.
After hearing the news, I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel. As a Giants fan, should I be happy that the old enemy is finally retiring? Should I be sad that the guy who notoriously chokes under pressure or gets hurt midway through the season is giving someone better a chance?
As a player, Romo has always been average with spurts of greatness. In his first full season in 2006, Romo led the league in average passing yards with 8.6. In 2007, he lead Dallas to a 13-3 record and the NFC East title while throwing a career high 36 touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro-Bowl four times and was known as one of the best fourth quarter quarterbacks in the league — during the regular season.
For all of his accomplishments, Romo had just as many faults that never eluded him. In his second game against the Giants on Oct. 23, 2006, he had a huge opportunity to make an impact after then-Dallas starter Drew Bledsoe was taken out of the game due to a poor first half.
Romo’s first throw was intercepted by the Giants and was one of three interceptions during the game, including a pick-six. He passed for 14 of 25 and earned 227 yards while throwing two touchdowns in the loss, 36-22.
Romo’s career was filled with multiple instances of coming up short after making it so far. In 2006, he led the team to the first playoff round against the Seattle Seahawks.
He gave the Cowboys the lead through most of the game, before Seattle came back to make it 21-20 with more than two minutes remaining. Romo led the team to Seattle’s eight-yard line on fourth down, where a field goal would win them the game.
At this time, Romo still served the team as a holder during kicks and all he needed to do was catch the ball and allow kicker Martin Gramatica to execute the field goal. Instead, he botched the snap and was tackled after trying to run the ball into the endzone. The Cowboys would end up losing the game.
This was the origin of Romo’s choking nature. During his career, Romo would only win two playoff games out of a total six.
Then there were a lot of injuries. During his career, Romo suffered several injuries that took him out for varying amounts of time.
There was the broken right pinkie finger in 2008, when he missed the playoffs and the Cowboys went 1-2 to finish the season without him. He broke his left collarbone in 2010 against the Giants, and he ruptured a disk in 2013, which caused him to miss a winner-takes-all game against the Philadelphia Eagles, in which his team lost.
He had two transverse process fractures in 2014, followed by breaking his left collarbone twice the next season in 2015.
Finally, he suffered a compression fracture in his L1 vertebra in 2016, allowing rookie quarterback Dak Prescott to take the league by storm in Romo’s absence.
So, in the end, who is Romo? He’s an average player whose name was universally known throughout the league with greats like former-Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and Brady. Fans knew Romo and they worried about which version of him their team would be facing. Would he be the player who could pinpoint hail mary’s to win close games or would he be the guy to take a bad hit, fumble the ball and be out for a few games?
He’s almost like a opposite version of Eli Manning, who also joined the league in 2004. Both are known for their late game heroics when it comes to comeback wins, but Manning could do it beyond November. Both of them have struggled in the first round of the playoffs, with both only getting past the opening round twice.
In contrast to Romo always losing in the second round, Manning went all the way to win a Super Bowl ring — twice! Both players had to deal with polarizing defensive teams during their careers. However, Manning has earned a reputation for being durable and taking hard hits before getting back up, while Romo endured career-ending hits.
Romo is now leaving the football field for the broadcasters booth, joining CBS as a color commentator alongside the legendary Jim Nantz. It’s going to be nice having someone who’s fresh off the field to call games, especially since Romo’s played against so many of the teams he’ll be watching.
As a football fan, it’s nice to see such a recognizable and talented player continue to work in the league in a new role. But as a typical Giants fan, it’s nice he finally figured out the NFL is too tough and is now taking a job to commentate on players who might actually win a Super Bowl.