Yes, Romo is retiring from football and joining CBS this season to replace Phil Simms as an analyst with Jim Nantz on game broadcasts. While some already are speculating that Romo could return to the gridiron if the right situation were to arise, we'll have to cross that bridge if/when we come to it. For now, this is a time to reflect back on the quarterback's fascinating career ...
Undrafted out of Eastern Illinois in 2003, Romo caught Bill Parcells' eye and joined the Cowboys on a $10,000 signing bonus. Eventually taking over the starting job in 2006, Romo went 78-49 (.614 winning percentage) under center for Dallas. He made four Pro Bowls and finishes with a 97.1 career passer rating -- the fourth-best figure in NFL history. But Romo remains a very polarizing subject among fans, and skeptics point to his 2-4 playoff record as a measure of his true value.
We always talk about how pro football is the ultimate team game -- until it doesn't fit our narrative for a player. Archie Manning is loved for being on bad teams his whole career and competing his tail off. He missed more games to injury than Romo. That's OK, though. Jim Plunkett won two Super Bowls, yet nobody thinks he is a Hall of Famer. In fact, Manning is more well-known. Catch my drift?
What matters most is how a player fared next to his peers. Among QBs who've attempted at least 2,500 passes, Romo ranks third all time in passer rating. The only guys ahead of him? Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, who both will breakdance into the Hall of Fame. Oh, yeah. Forgot. Winning is important. Wouldn't you say a 78-49 career record is slightly indicative of winning? And about that playoff record. Dan Fouts won all of three playoff games -- he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The "Romo chokes in big moments" narrative was always overblown, but most people have caught on to that nonsense by now. Heck, the first play they show is him dropping a snap as a holder, not a quarterback. And #DezCaughtIt should go with its corollary, #TonyThrewAPerfectDeepBallOnFourthAndTwo. I've always thought the most underrated quarterback stat is yards per attempt. It's a number not influenced too much by the passing era, as it represents bang for the buck. Romo is tied for sixth in that career category, despite the fact that three guys who played 60-something years ago sit atop that list. That's an underappreciated metric for the most underappreciated football player of his era.
But is all that enough to make him a Hall of Famer? You tell me.
This is a hard case to make, in light of his postseason failures, but I think you have to know the person. I felt so strongly about him that, when he came to Dallas as an undrafted rookie, I helped him get a shoe deal -- even though he was on the sidelines. He was the kind of guy you could look at and know was going to be good. It never fell into place in the playoffs, but he went above and beyond on the field to help the
Cowboys win -- and in my book, he belongs in Canton.
Part of being a Hall of Famer means establishing yourself as one of the elites among your contemporaries. In that respect, Romo had the misfortune of playing in the same era as Brett Favre, Peyton Manning,
Drew Brees and
Aaron Rodgers. It's hard for me to put Romo on a similar pedestal.
He was good -- not
great -- as a QB. And many of the
Cowboys teams he led were underwhelming. A good, solid player whose talent was largely underappreciated. But not a Hall of Famer.
Unfortunately for Romo, he's inevitably going to be compared to some of the great quarterbacks not only in NFL history, but
Cowboys history. Maybe it's a little unfair, but that's football.
Romo did have a pretty impressive career, one that saw Dallas win 61.4 percent of the games he started. Unfortunately for him, the bar for Hall of Fame quarterbacks has been set pretty high. If you don't have a Lombardi Trophy or a bunch of significant league records, you simply aren't making the cut.