They became friends then and remain friends to this day. Each summer they bump into each other in Florida on vacation and have been known to play some beach football games. They'll talk some football, especially Romo, but not that much.
"But I think in that time of the year it's usually more about other things," said Payton, who will coach against Witten, Romo and the rest of the Cowboys Sunday. "There are certain things that come up that it would be natural in discussion, not often specifics with regards to X's and O's, just about the profession. I think there's an area that a lot of people that a lot of people have gravitated to that a lot of people enjoy. You know, Jason's down there now with a house. Tony often times gets down. You know, Jerry [Jones] is right down the road. It's a good area to relax and get away for a little bit of time in the summer."
Romo still draws on things he learned from Payton from 2003-05.
"Sean had a real good mind for the X's and O's part of the game," Romo said. "He understood the thought process that goes through the quarterback's mind and ways to help that."
Payton was raving about Witten during an answer on a conference call when he got a little nostalgic.
"The consistency and availability of a player like that is only truly appreciated once they're finished playing," Payton said. "He's been amazing. For me it's challenging to see players like Jason or Tony, I don't know what year, '03 brings them to now, 10 years (actually 11). It seems like those guys are six-year players or five-year players. I think we're all getting older. He's another special person that's had a great career there and is playing at very high level right now."