IRVING, Texas -- When Tony Romo first burst on the scene in 2006, Bill Parcells likes to say the Dallas Cowboys quarterback was spawned from a lot of fathers, meaning just about everybody was trying to take credit for Romo's success.
One of those fathers was Saints head coach Sean Payton, who was the Cowboys' assistant head coach in 2003. Payton played a large part in Romo's signing with Dallas as an undrafted free agent.
Payton was there at Romo's first minicamp practice and has seen Romo become one of the NFL's best quarterbacks.
"He's having, I think, the best year of his career this season right now," Payton said. "Just having the chance to watch three games myself on that side of the ball, he's been very good in regards to his decision-making. He knows pre-snap where he wants to go. He's got a quick way of getting through his progressions and the ball comes out extremely fast."
Romo is third in the NFL in touchdown passes with 20, fifth in yards (2,553) and fifth in passer rating (100.0). He has been intercepted only six times in 352 attempts.
"I think he located the ball very well," Payton said. "The word isn't improvise, but his ability to move and extend plays and avoid pressure and avoid sacks has served him very well. I think from a decision-making standpoint each year, you're seeing someone very comfortable in the system. I think Jason [Garrett] and those guys there have done a very good job of giving him throws that he's very comfortable with."
Payton and Romo will go against each other for the third time Sunday. Payton won in 2006 at Texas Stadium. Romo won in 2009 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Romo did not play in the 2010 meeting because of a broken collarbone, and Payton did not coach in last year's meeting because of an NFL suspension.
Anytime the Saints and Cowboys meet, the story of a possible trade involving Romo in 2006 always comes up. Payton dismissed the talk Wednesday.
"We had the second pick in the draft," Payton said. "We were looking closely at the quarterbacks in that draft, and then after the combine is when Drew [Brees] became available from San Diego, so no, in fairness to the question, I don't think there was anything that ever really got started. And it really wasn't even discussed. I think [Bill Parcells'] words were pretty good. I think he said, 'Go sit on the couch and have a warm glass of milk.'"