Everyone has an opinion about the Tony Romo roller-coaster ride, but some opinions matter more than others. Troy Aikman is one of the few men who knows firsthand the fishbowl Romo is living in right now -- and the former Cowboys quarterback believes the current one has the tools to succeed.
"I think Tony's a terrific talent, wonderful person, great character, and I still believe he's going to go on and do really great things," Aikman told KTCK-AM on Thursday, via The Dallas Morning News. "I understand some of the skepticism, and until he does it, there's always going to be the questions out there."
Romo's Week 4 collapse against the Detroit Lions generated a tsunami of criticism from former and current NFL players. Joe Theismann went off. Deion Sanders went off. Chris Cooley went off. But Aikman said Romo actually was on that fateful Sunday, at least at the start.
"I thought he was brilliant through the first half," Aikman said. "He played about as well as any quarterback could play, with only three or four completions. He was doing a great job, and he was getting it done shorthanded."
Aikman's Hall of Fame career wasn't always Super Bowl rings and endless chains of on-air praise from John Madden and Pat Summerall.
Aikman went through an uncertain stretch with the Cowboys in the early part of his career. Coach Jimmy Johnson selected the UCLA product with the first overall pick in the 1989 draft, with the expectation that Aikman would be Dallas' quarterback for years to come. Then, months later, Johnson shocked the football world by drafting Steve Walsh, his quarterback at the University of Miami, in the supplemental draft.
Aikman and Walsh split starts in 1989, and it was Walsh who engineered the Cowboys' only win that season -- against the Redskins -- during that miserable 1-15 campaign. It was an uncomfortable and humbling start for Aikman, whose detractors questioned which quarterback was better suited to lead the franchise into the future.
Walsh was traded to the Saints the following season, and the rest is history, but Aikman -- better than the rest -- knows Romo is under a microscope that the Ryan Fitzpatricks and Matt Schaubs of the world never will experience.