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Three Thoughts on the Birth of TV Tony Romo, Quarterback Turned Broadcaster

Old Cowboys never die. They just get network blazers.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys finally made it official. Tony Romo gets to be interesting again.

Adam Schefter and Todd Archer reported this morning that Romo will retire from football and take a job in broadcasting. Here are three quick thoughts on Romo’s new career.

1. If you want a really high-profile TV job after you quit football, your best bet is to be a good-to-great Cowboys quarterback.

The list now includes Romo, Troy Aikman, Eddie LeBaron, Roger Staubach (see an excellent photo here), and, of course, Don Meredith, the warbling godfather of Monday Night Football. The ’90s Cowboys dynasty is all over TV: Aikman, Michael Irvin, Daryl Johnston, Darren Woodson, etc. Babe Laufenberg is a media entity in Dallas. Even Emmitt Smith had a TV career.

If Romo winds up in, say, CBS’s no. 1 booth, you’ll have ex-Cowboys calling both marquee Sunday-afternoon games. This is where I sympathize a little with Cowboy haters. Old Cowboys never die. They just get network blazers.

2. Romo hasn’t been funny or charming in a long time.

Nationally, a lot of people think of Tony Romo as a goofy, fun-loving guy who lacked the laser focus of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. The latter part is more or less accurate. But outside of a couple of mildly amusing DirecTV commercials, Romo hasn’t been funny in years. He hasn’t even tried. He has been incredibly, purposefully dull.

Back in 2008, Romo lost a Week 17 game to the Eagles that knocked the Cowboys out of the playoffs. Afterward, he told the press, “If this is the worst thing that will ever happen to me, then I’ve lived a pretty good life.”

Every athlete-cum-broadcaster has to unlearn lessons from the Pro Football School of the Determined Cliché. Each has to be willing to get medieval on former colleagues. Each has to get medieval on his old team. Romo faces an interesting challenge. To succeed in the media, he can’t be the dullard the media turned him into.

3. Put Romo at the 16th hole.

Here’s a worthwhile idea that George Dunham of Dallas’s The Ticket brought up Tuesday morning. What if CBS, Fox, or NBC gives Romo a side gig calling golf? Romo spent years trying to qualify for the U.S. Open. He tried to make the cut at a golf event last week. He once told the Golf Channel’s Damon Hack that after his playing days, he wanted to cover golf and football for Sports Illustrated.

Romo doesn’t need to start at Butler Cabin. Give him an obscure hole at the strata of tournament Dan Jenkins used to call the Bad Breath Invitational. Let Romo and Holly Sonders trade off post-round interviews. (“Phil, talk about your short game.”)

Hell, Jim Nantz, Romo’s potential NFL play-by-play partner, could take him under his wing the way that Bill Parcells once did. Imagine a smiling ex-Cowboy, his achy back healed, looking into the red light of a TV camera and saying, “Hello, friends. Tony Romo here …” I would watch that telecast.