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Tony Romo on the Future of NFL Quarterback Play and Dynasty-Building in Sports

The CBS announcer joined ‘The Bill Simmons Podcast’ to discuss the similarities between the Patriots and Spurs and the trends he saw in this NFL season’s final-four teams

Tony Romo Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Fresh off calling the AFC championship game between the Jaguars and Patriots on Sunday, CBS announcer Tony Romo joined Bill Simmons and Cousin Sal on The Bill Simmons Podcast to discuss what NFL quarterbacks will look like after the golden age of passers ends and how teams like the Patriots and the Spurs built lasting dynasties.

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

The Future of Quarterbacking in the NFL

Cousin Sal: [Blake] Bortles and [Nick] Foles and [Case] Keenum and these guys are in the final four. Is this just gonna be commonplace once [Tom] Brady leaves and once [Drew] Brees goes and Aaron Rodgers [retires]? [That] is gonna be an anomaly, right? It won’t matter anymore that … some of the elite quarterbacks aren’t around. Do you think this is gonna be the norm?

Tony Romo: I think what happened was the NFL had this, I don’t want to say golden age of quarterbacking, but you had this 10-year run of just high, high-level quarterback play. [Peyton] Manning and Brady were around. You had [Brett] Favre. You had Rodgers. Eli Manning was in two Super Bowls during this stretch. You had Ben Roethlisberger.

Sal: You can throw yourself in there. You can throw yourself in there no. 9, don’t be bashful.

Romo: At the end I was gonna say that I was obviously the best of all of them. [Laughs] But I really feel like … I mean, it’s just a rare thing. If you look back now, you’re like, man, any of those guys in their prime would be one of the top two or three guys every year now going forward. And the league needs to find that next phase of that. But that’s really rare, to have that many quality [quarterbacks]. In the ’90s, in the ’80s, you’re looking at three guys consistently and then a guy will sprinkle in … with a couple good years, but it’s just hard to find guys who can play at that level. Having a Manning and a Brady has set such a standard that … we just feel like, “Oh, the great quarterbacks are supposed to play in the Super Bowl every year.” Well, that’s not normal. Dan Marino played in one. We think he’s pretty good. It’s just the reality of it is — it’s such a team game, [but] Brady makes it look, and Manning, they were so special and unique that they just make it look far easier than it is. …

At the end of the day football is really about getting a dominant defense, carrying it through, and, if you get any kind of good quarterback playing, you have a chance to win the title every year. And if you get a great quarterback you’re going to have good seasons, but you will normally lose somewhere to a great defense along the way. And that’s the story of the NFL … and I think you’ll see that in the future. I think you’ll see the dominant defenses will continue to play out. Bill Belichick will find a way. And then when Tom Brady’s gone, you just won’t see this consistency ever again, I don’t think.

How to Build a Sports Dynasty

Bill Simmons: You get to interview these coaches, you get to hang out, and then announcers love to talk about, “We talked to him last night, we hung out with him yesterday.” Who [was] your favorite coach to talk to, out of all of these 19 weeks?

Romo: Well, they’re all different. I think, for me, Bill Belichick stands out just from almost a learning standpoint. I ask a million questions — sometimes I test some coaches with some questions to find out how gifted they are — but coach Belichick just gives his team such a schematic advantage. … I’m kind of a football junkie, so for me it’s really enjoyable to almost go back and learn a little bit about some things I wasn’t privy to — you know, special teams stuff, stuff I never even had to think about. … But I’ve enjoyed learning.

Sal: You know, Tony, I don’t want you to think I’m stalking you — yeah, sure, I named my son after you and all that — but I went through every single one of your games, and I figured out, conservatively, you would’ve won eight Super Bowls with Belichick as your coach. You say over or under eight?

Romo: Uh, that’s a good conservative number. I think that’s pretty accurate. [Laughs] I think what you find is … the closest thing I can compare to New England is the Spurs. When you have the best coach in the league — and I think Gregg Popovich for a long time has been, if not the best, he’s been at the top of the list — and then all of a sudden you add a player who’s in the top two or three in the league, Tim Duncan. … If you put those two guys together, good luck for every other team — it’s a dynasty. It’s the only way to really sustain something for 12, 15 years. You can do things for four or five [years], but over time, you need both [of] these people to make it [to] where you just never fall off. And I think the unique thing is that the Patriots have done the same thing: They have the best coach, they have the best player, [so] how do you beat them? … You have to play a game that is such above your norm to beat those guys, and I think the Spurs are the only people that have done [something similar]. I mean, they won five titles over the 15 years, they were always in the mix, and I just think when you get two paired like that together, good luck.