In the days following Tony Romo's retirement, fans and media have been stuck in a dog-chase-tail game where they try and properly contextualize the quarterback's career.
Is Romo a Hall of Famer? Is Romo the best quarterback in Cowboys history? Is Romo the most underrated quarterback of our time?
The truth, as with most things in life, is not concrete or satisfying. As former Cowboys receiver Miles Austin said Wednesday on Good Morning Football, he personally considers Romo as talented as Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. But he recognized that Romo meant something unique to him.
"I think you've got to put him up high," Austin said. "Obviously we didn't get a chance to win a championship. But as far as statistically and what he did for the franchise, I think you've got to stack him up there, right among Troy, right among Staubach. I think you've gotta put him right on that tier. And you can stack them however you want based on championships and other things, but for me personally, what he's done for me in my life and what I know he's done for the organization, you've gotta respect that. And I do."
Austin was an undrafted free agent out of Monmouth who came to the Cowboys the same year that Romo became a full-time starter. By the time his stint in Dallas was up, he had the fourth-most touchdown catches from Romo by any Cowboys receiver behind Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrell Owens.
Austin is speaking from the perspective of a player who might have had a significantly different career trajectory had it not been for Romo.
Is he wrong? No. Nor is the guy who saddles up to the bar at your Philadelphia-area Chickie's & Pete's and loudly proclaims that over a similar career span, Donovan McNabb had more passing yards, just 14 fewer touchdowns, five conference title game appearances and a Super Bowl appearance, making McNabb the better player. Nor is the somber Cowboys fan who laments all the years owner Jerry Jones neglected his defense, putting far too big a weight on Romo's back. Could Romo have gone to the Super Bowl with a better defense? Would that have changed some people's minds?
The point is that this is all fun. Romo leaves the game reasonably satisfied, which was good enough for him. However we feel Romo will be remembered should be good enough for us, too.