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Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Cowboys must weigh risk/reward on Romo

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are hoping an epidural Tony Romo received on Monday will help alleviate some of the issues with the quarterback’s injured back.

It might not be a cure-all, but it could be a cure enough for Romo to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

But the Cowboys have to keep in mind the same things the Green Bay Packers have kept in mind in deciding when the right time is for Aaron Rodgers to return to the field.

Tony Romo
The dilemma for Dallas: Even with a healthy Tony Romo, would the team be a legit title contender?
The Packers have made this a medical-only decision and have thought about the long-term possibilities regarding Rodgers.

The Cowboys have to think about the long term when it comes to Romo. He is 33 and facing his second back surgery in less than a year, but whatever window the Cowboys have closes when Romo is done. They have not started the process of finding his successor, although this injury could speed up that process in next year’s draft.

If Romo can play, then the Cowboys will have to measure the risks against the reward.

To owner/general manager Jerry Jones, just getting into the playoffs means a team has a chance to win a Super Bowl. He points to the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Packers as recent examples. But he fails to point out those teams got hot late in the year and were much better defensively than the Cowboys have ever been this entire season.

Could the Cowboys make a Super Bowl run? Anything is possible, but extremely remote. In 2006 the Cowboys really felt like they could at least make the NFC Championship Game had they beaten the Seattle Seahawks. That team, however, had more of a chance to make a run, even with an injured Terrell Owens, than this team. The arrow, as Jones likes to say, was pointing up.

In 1991, the Cowboys got hot late without Troy Aikman. Steve Beuerlein was the starter for the final four games of the regular season and beat the Chicago Bears in the first round. Aikman was coming back from a knee injury and the thought was he might be able to play in the season finale against the Atlanta Falcons.

Jimmy Johnson stuck with Beuerlein and won a playoff game with the backup.

But here’s what Aikman said leading into the Atlanta game: "Nothing, not even winning the Super Bowl, is worth having your career end. But there are never any guarantees in this business. Who knows what might happen? I don't look as far down the road as other people might. I'd like to be a part of what's happening now.”

So would it be worth risking Romo’s next two or three years for the chance to make the wild-card round of the playoffs?

You play to win the game, Herm Edwards once famously said. But you cannot ignore the consequences.