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Tony Romo Plays ‘Madden’ Like Only a Former Pro Quarterback Can

And then he brings that expertise to the broadcast booth

Tony Romo Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Tony Romo is receiving rave reviews after his first NFL Sunday in the broadcast booth, where he called the Raiders’ 26-16 win over the Titans. During the game, he made a habit of predicting plays, putting to use his 14 years of experience as a pro football player to let viewers know what was coming. Take a look:

On the latest episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons and Cousin Sal talked about Romo’s excellent debut, and Sal relayed a story about how he watched Romo play Madden this summer. And yes, all of the expertise that comes through on his broadcasts helps him beat teenagers in the video game.

Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.

Sal: We were over at Tony Romo's house, Jimmy Kimmel and I, and he's talking about broadcasting. It was this summer, and he showed us [a tape of him calling] the Chiefs-Falcons game. That was the one where [Eric] Berry ran [a two-point conversion] back. So he called that again and showed us. And I said, "You know what you should do, you should watch Madden and see what the play-by-play is and the color commentary. Then you can see what's marketable, you can see what you want to stay away from or go with." And he's like, "That's a great idea." So he puts Madden on, and he plays. And we end up watching him play all afternoon, beating up on these 12-year-olds. He's not listening for a second to the color commentary, and Jimmy's like, "Did you realize you didn't listen at all to what they're saying?" He's like, "I know, I've got to beat this guy." And he was changing every play at the line, because he would see what the defense is, and he'd go for 13 yards on an offensive play. It was spectacular.

Simmons: And he's playing like the top-50 Madden guys in the world.

Sal: And the kids are taunting him because you could hear it over the audio. He never says anything back; they have no idea they're playing Tony Romo. But it was a great thing, and finally he lost to some kid who was playing the Vikings who had the hit stick, fumble button down.

Simmons: So Romo is just going to the line in Madden, seeing what the defense was, and every time audibling for 13 yards.

Sal: Yeah, he's like, "He's not smart enough to cheat the safety here so I'm going to come back with this." It was spectacular.

Simmons: He might be the best analyst since early Cris Collinsworth. … He was predicting stuff. Poor Phil Simms took more of a beating yesterday just because Romo was good. But Phil Simms, something would happen and then after showing the replay Simms would be like, "you know, we talked about it with the coach last night." And it's like, "Well, why didn't you tell us?" Romo, they're going to the line and Romo's like, "It's third down, they just ran on this play, that means they're going to go for it on fourth because you wouldn't run for it on third." He's actually explaining shit to me. He's looking at the line, he's guessing plays. "This is going to be a run, I bet they run again. Watch the receiver on the right." I felt like I was watching the game with him. I mean, he's raw, he's got to work on when the crowd gets loud to yell more and stuff like that, but if the goal was, “I'm watching a game with Tony Romo,” mission accomplished. I felt like we were watching the game with him.

Sal: Absolutely. A little slow start, I think he tried to take everything in, and then the analysis was super and I love the predicting. And why not predict? No one is going to think that football is fixed if you make a prediction and get it right. It's great. I think he adds a nice, boyish enthusiasm to the game.

Simmons: I think he's going to be the most popular color guy we've had for football since Madden. I really do, from what I saw yesterday I was like, “This guy is going to be the best at this job.”

Sal: I thought that, too, and then I also thought that, as I saw [Texans quarterback] Tom Savage fall apart, I'm like, "How quick a flight is it from Tennessee to Houston?"