Tony Romo did two things yesterday as he acknowledged that the Dallas Cowboys have the right guy quarterbacking the franchise in Dak Prescott. He pierced even the most calloused sports fan’s heart with his speech that outlined the end of his run in Dallas.
And he finally achieved greatness as a Dallas Cowboy, after years of being called out for letting his team down in the biggest moments.
It takes a lot of character to stand before a room full of beat writers and say another guy is a better choice than yourself. That a rookie is the best chance for America’s Team to become America’s Team for real once again.
Tom Brady has talked about the day that will eventually come when the Patriots get rid of him once his skills fall off. But talking about a nebulous day in the future is much easier than doing so in the moment.
Romo got up in front of the football world and graciously stepped aside for the good of his football team. A feat much harder than anything a quarterback can accomplish on the field.
“Dak’s earned the right to be our quarterback,” Romo said.
Pro athlete pride runs deep. Deeper still in quarterbacks. They’re are expected to be the face of the team, take on all the blame when things go wrong, and all the glory when a game of inches finally goes their way.
Tony Romo didn’t let pride trip him up yesterday. And he’s not gonna let it trip his 8-1 Cowboys up either. They have a real shot to end up in the Super Bowl. And while Romo has been blamed before for them not getting to that point, he wasn’t going to do anything to hurt his team’s chances in 2016.
He talked of the soul-crushing blow he took when he ended up injured and unable to be part of maybe the best team he’s been around. Clearly, the guy knows his opportunities to join greats like Elway and Aikman are slipping away.
Not an easy thing for an athlete who’s gone to work each season with one goal in mind. To win a Super Bowl.
To witness another man lead your team to a Super Bowl win would be like courting your soulmate for ten years, only to end up watching from the back church pew as she weds a younger version of you.
It’s easy to be jaded as a sports fan here in 2016. A lot of what we see from professional athletes doesn’t come close to giving us goosebumps. At best, we’re often uninspired by selfish players with a “me first” attitude. At worst, we’re disgusted with athletes who are out of touch with the average fan.
Tony Romo’s concession speech reminded us all why we love sports. Why we get so entrenched in football. It is about the team. It’s about moments when you witness a guy step up at the most critical time, and the franchise’s fortunes are forever changed.
He said, “There’s greatness in being part of a team.”
A good reminder to us all as he pointed this out to high school and college players around the country.
Falling on the sword for the Dallas Cowboys is maybe the single greatest thing Tony Romo will ever do for the team he’s lead for so long. And he’s done plenty to be proud of over the years. Just not enough to get his job back in the middle of a season that he described as “magical.”
Does Tony Romo feel like he can still take this team to the promised land? Damn right.
Yet he felt stronger about not becoming a distraction for what looks to be the team’s best year since the glory days of Troy Aikman.
Yesterday we witnessed a professional athlete conquer himself, just as he described before he left the podium. Conquering the man across from him would have been futile.
Why try to conquer a man in Dak Prescott who may well get Dallas to a point Romo could not? Better to help that cause than become a distraction and derail the entire season.
There was no Q&A session for Romo yesterday. Wasn’t necessary. He answered every question that could have came up. And every question that’s ever been asked about his leadership in the past.