Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Friday, September 30, 2011
Troy Aikman: Tony Romo's critics were wrong

By Tim MacMahon

IRVING, Texas – Tony Romo is who Troy Aikman thought he was.

Romo’s gutsy, fiery performances the last two weeks have changed the perception of him for a lot of people. Aikman, who along with Roger Staubach set an extrenely high standard for Cowboys quarterbacks, isn’t one of them.

“My perception of him hasn’t changed at all,” Aikman said. “I’ve been a big supporter of Tony’s. I’ve seen what they’ve seen of him in the organization. He hasn’t surprised me at all.”

Aikman, who will call the game against the Lions for FOX, points out that Romo’s performance has rarely been a problem for the Cowboys. Romo has a 41-23 record as a starter, the fifth-best winning percentage among active quarterbacks after that many games.

“Whether they win or lose, it’s rare that he doesn’t at least put them in a position to win,” Aikman said. “And obviously, he’s won a lot of games.”

Romo’s critics point out his clutch failures, such as the two turnovers while the Cowboys blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of the season opener against the Jets.

Romo has made some high-profile mistakes. However, those aren’t the norm, as evidenced by the fact that his career fourth-quarter passer rating (100.3) is the best among active quarterbacks.

“We’ve all had failures in those situations,” Aikman said. “No one plays great in all of those situations, but the people who have criticized him, I really don’t think they know how he’s wired.”

Aikman’s favorite receiver, on the other hand, thinks that Romo fighting through a fractured rib and punctured lung to lead the Cowboys to wins the last two weeks rightfully puts the franchise quarterback in a different light.

Michael Irvin believes Romo has legitimized himself as a leader this month.

“The way you get to be leader and the way you show how much it matters is when it matters more than my body. It matters more than my health.” Irvin said. “I don’t care what you say. You can talk like Aristotle and ain’t nobody hearing you. Ain’t nobody hearing you.

“Until they see what Tony did and continue to do that, all that gibberish I hear on TV about leadership, stop it already. Half of you don’t know how to lead. How the hell can you criticize him about leadership when you don’t leadership when you see it? That was leadership, coming back out, I’m hurt, follow me and I’ll get you there. Now he’ll get an ear from anybody.”