As it is well-chronicled, Tony Romo has retired from the Dallas Cowboys. Were you surprised? I was. I thought he’d either be traded to a team he wanted to play for or become a free agent so he could do the same. It was over for him in Big D where Dak Prescott was now The Man.
Romo may be one of the best quarterbacks never to win a playoff game. I thought he was a terrific quarterback. But the rest of the parts for the Cowboys were not aligned to make it happen for Romo when he was healthy. So Romo retired and was signed up by CBS as their lead expert-analyst, taking over for the veteran Phil Simms and working with the iconic Jim Nantz.
Were you surprised at that move? I was. Really surprised.
Here’s why. To have a player hang ’em up and jump immediately into the fire as the lead analyst on a network’s number-one game each week is unfair. Unfair to him. Unfair to the viewers.
People think it’s all about knowing football and making pertinent comments on what’s happening, what should happen, and what didn’t happen. That’s true.
But to get to that point, a commentator has to fully know the logistics of the job: What it’s like to view a game from the broadcast booth, not down on the field, how to operate with a microphone headset with a producer and director making comments in your ear, communicating and conversing with your partner, the pacing of a broadcast, the flow, the timing of when you say and what you say…etc. etc. etc.
I guess this is where I dispel the common idea conveyed to me for years: that it must be impossible to talk when someone is constantly talking in your ear.
That’s really not the case. Yes, they do talk. But not when you’re speaking. Still, instead of the next play coming through to you in your helmet, when your partner is talking, you’re hearing a producer asking you what angle you prefer on the next play for replay purposes, and you have to hit the talk-back button to answer him. Oh, and your partner may be asking you a question while all this is going on. You get the idea.
It’s an adjustment if you’re coming off the field to become a broadcaster. A big one. I know. In my role at Fox over the years I have broken in people like Troy Aikman, John Lynch, Daryl Johnson, Ronde Barber and David Diehl to name a few. They have all become successful. But none of them was ready right away. Improvement is never game to game. It’s year to year. So now, CBS is asking Romo to handle its top game each week.
I have no doubt Tony Romo, who has all the qualities to become a top analyst, will be a success.
As a player who performed at the number one position on a team, he has the knowledge, the personality, the sense of humor and the ability to communicate. It’s just that he is being thrown into the cauldron without any chance to develop without the glare of working a game involving the Patriots, or Broncos, or any other AFC power. Plus, his background has been in the NFC. There’s a significant adjustment right there.
So this is not fair for Tony Romo, nor for the audience that expects a polished, experienced showing right away.
There’s another factor here. When teams start losing their starting quarterbacks to injury, they will be calling on Mr. Romo to perhaps rescue them. Come out of retirement. Who wouldn’t?
I wish Tony Romo nothing but the best. In time they’ll be getting his best. I think his best will be outstanding. The key here is the term “in time.” How long will that take?