IRVING, Texas -- Their friendship, about a decade old, began on a shuttle bus as Jason Witten and Tony Romo traveled from the airport to the Dallas Cowboys' Valley Ranch training facility in hopes of fulfilling their lifelong quests to be in the NFL.
Their relationship was forged on the practice field under the glare of Bill Parcells, who challenged them nonstop mentally and physically, and at Witten's house, where he and his wife, Michelle, and Romo, their favorite third wheel, spent many evenings watching "The Bachelor" and "American Idol."
And it has been solidified during long conversations about the bitter disappointments and frustrations of trying to make America's Team a winner again. These days, Romo and Witten, the longest-tenured teammates on the Cowboys, discuss the joys of fatherhood and ridding themselves of a legacy neither wants.
"Most of our careers, we've been taught the same way," Witten said. "I can be honest with him, and he can be honest with me. If he doesn't like a route, he can tell me.
"Any time you can have honest communication, it allows you to be in search of perfection. We've had a lot of smiles and success and happy times together, and unfortunately had a lot of tough days together. I believe we've been built tougher and stronger because of those experiences."
If the Cowboys figure out a way to lose Sunday at Seattle, it won't be because the team overlooked the Seahawks.
Romo and Witten won't let that happen. Not this season.
Last season, Romo returned to a game against the San Francisco 49ers with a broken rib and punctured lung. Witten played last week less than a month after suffering a lacerated spleen.
"It just shows the commitment level this guy has to play the game," Romo said of Witten. "It shows how much he loves football, how much he loves to be out here competing, and I'm lucky to have a guy like him in our locker room.
"I can't say enough about the respect he's earned from everybody for his attitude through this whole process. He's the best teammate."
And that's among the reasons they bonded quickly. They're the same guy. Two dudes compelled to succeed.
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