And now for something completely different
An NFL coach who loves Romo's talent and stays in touch with several Cowboys assistants told me: "That team badly needs Romo to take over as its leader. And all he really wants to be is a good soldier. Not a general. Just a very good soldier."
That's because, deep down, Romo knows he's still your basic undrafted free agent. Staubach won the Heisman. Aikman was the first pick in the draft. Romo doesn't trust he can be routinely great. He keeps waiting for someone to tap him on the shoulder and tell him he just got punked -- he isn't really a Dallas Cowboys quarterback. That's why he was so happy-go-unlucky in those first couple of seasons. He was trying to grin away the Texas-sized pressure, shrug off the voice inside telling him, "You know you don't belong here."
That voice keeps telling him he WILL self-destruct. And he does.
PODCAST Ben and Skin take you inside the numbers and evaluate the job Jerry Jones has done fives game into the season.
I think the "leader" stuff is overblown, and that it comes from people who don't ever visit the Cowboys' locker room, where Romo is looked at as a leader in all of the critical ways. But I think there's something to the idea of Romo's relationship to potential greatness. Guys who win Heisman Trophies and get picked first overall are the types of guys who have spent their whole lives crushing everyone and everything in their path -- for whom doubt was never company and therefore can't even be a memory. Romo hit more than his share of bumps and setbacks along his way to the NFL, and therefore the idea that he might possess more innate self-doubt than did his Hall of Fame predecessors is not a crazy one at all.
Where I fall short on this -- and I guess one of the reasons I was never going to make it on "First Take" -- is that I can't sit here and say Romo will never win a title with the Cowboys. Very few quarterbacks have ever filled us with certainty that they could win a Super Bowl until they actually did it. They used to say the Broncos would never win one with John Elway, that the Giants would never win one with Eli Manning. Someday, we may look back on this Romo conversation as preposterously silly.
But that's who Romo is right now. Even if you want to like him and believe in him, there are just enough reasons -- some of his own making, some not -- for doubt. And jeez, if he's lost Skip, that's a tough one.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Jerry Jones' recent comments, Cowboys OTAs, Dez Bryant and more.
Play Podcast Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Tony Romo news and what he will be watching for in OTAs.
Play Podcast Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his comments on how Jason Garrett should handle being on the hot seat and not let Jerry Jones get in the way.
Play Podcast Cowboys safety Barry Church joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the new defensive scheme and the impact it will have on him, how much more intense he expects practice to be with Monte Kiffin and his expectations.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Cowboys news, including Jason Garrett downplaying Tony Romo's involvement in offensive planning and play calling.
Play Podcast John Lynch joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss playing for Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli, why Cowboys fans should be excited about the new defensive staff, why Valley Ranch will no longer resemble a country club and his thoughts on the Cowboys' roster.
Play Podcast Herm Edwards joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Cowboys news and give his take on what new face will make the biggest impact for Dallas.
Play Podcast Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he saw at the Cowboys' rookie minicamp and how he helped Rod Marinelli on the defensive side of the ball.