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Bill Parcells: Don't count Tony Romo out just yet

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It seems so long ago when Tony Romo was vying with Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt for the 2014 MVP award.

The ensuing 20 months have seen Romo doubled over in pain as often as he's reached the end zone.

When an increasingly brittle Romo broke a bone in his back last week after missing the majority of the 2015 season with a twice-fractured clavicle, it was natural to wonder how much more punishment the 36-year-old is willing to take before the lure of retirement beckons.

Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells went through a similar situation a decade ago, when he elevated Romo to QB1 of the Dallas Cowboys, ushering Drew Bledsoe to the bench and effectively ending the veteran's NFL career.

If Parcells sees any similarities between a swiftly declining 2006 Bledsoe and the current version of Romo, he's not saying. In fact, Parcells recently expressed confidence that Romo will make a successful return later this season.

"I have a very long relationship with Tony. Actually, I just texted him the other night after I found out about it. Pretty extensive text," Parcells said in last week's interview with The Rich Eisen Show. "You know, I wouldn't count this guy out just yet. I mean I think when you're in your mid-30s and you've been hurt a couple years a row, those whispers all start. People doubt. They do those things and that's just human nature. Also, maybe his successor has arrived. We're not sure about that yet."

The potential successor in reference is preseason sensation Dak Prescott, who will be put in position to keep the team afloat during Romo's absence.

The Cowboys have opted to keep Romo on the 53-man roster to start the season, quieting rumblings that Prescott could seize control of the job with a strong six-game stretch.

Parcells, for one, remains firmly in Romo's corner.

"I don't underestimate this young man," Parcells said of his former pupil. "He's got rare toughness, and I know he's going to make an effort to get better."

Quarterbacks can only absorb so many hits, undergo so many surgeries, come out on the losing end of so many thrillers before their bodies break down. As Parcells knows all too well, aging passers become gun-shy, afraid to pull the trigger.

It will be interesting to gauge how much of the near-MVP form Romo retains when he returns to the lineup in late October or early November.

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