Parcells was in his first season as Cowboys coach in 2003 when the team invested a $10,000 signing bonus in an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois University. Parcells cultivated Romo over three years before installing him as the team's starter. The rest is history.
In Judy Battista's in-depth piece on the Cowboys quarterback, Parcells talks about Romo's evolution as a young passer who was "athletic and instinctive, a little compulsive and indiscriminate, a confident player that took some chances that he probably shouldn't have taken" to one who is "a lot more judicious lately."
Parcells says he senses that Romo's year-to-year improvements can be contributed "just to osmosis." Parcells added that Romo seems to understand time is no longer on his side at 34 with two back surgeries in his recent past.
"I get a sense of urgency on his part," Parcells told Battista. "I'm not saying time is running out. But you know he's gotten nicked up here and there, and that can play on your mind about what the future holds."
When told of his old coach's comments, Romo agreed.
"He's right," Romo said. "I understand how fast your career goes. When you have opportunities, it's time to push it. We haven't accomplished anything. It's time to put our heads down. When you're young, you feel like you have time. We had some success, but we ultimately didn't move on. You think you'll have multiple opportunities. But injuries happen. Players go to other teams. That sense of urgency has always been there.
"But as you get older, you just recognize when your team has some ability compared to other years, you just can't squander it. You've got to do everything you can to have a chance to get deep in the playoffs."