Cooley's Romo rips are out of line

October, 4, 2011
10/04/11
4:55
PM ET
Chris Cooley is way wrong on this one. The Washington Redskins' tight end had no business talking as gleefully in public as he did about Tony Romo's most recent collapse. Cooley's a fun guy who's free with his opinions, and that makes him entertaining. But in this particular case, as a contemporary of Romo's and a fellow professional athlete, he should know better and should have kept his mouth shut.

Romo
Overall, the Romo bashing is getting silly, because it's become too easy. There's no art to it, very little thought put into what's being said anymore. He plays a great game, he's great. He plays a lousy game, and it's as though he never played a great one. It's knee-jerk. It's white noise. And it's almost pointless to keep track of who said what because it doesn't matter if it's all the same.

For instance, the stuff Deion Sanders said on the NFL Network about how Romo's "not the guy that can take you where you want to go." That's right off of Page 1 of the Romo-ripping handbook and it's not new or insightful.

No, what jumps off the page in the latest episode of Today in Tony Bashing is the contribution by Cooley, who said this on a radio show:
"It's amazing, amazing to watch him choke like that," Cooley said on 106.7 The Fan in Washington. "I'm just saying, (if) I'm up 24 points in the third quarter, if I'm the head coach, I feel like I could probably just take a knee for the rest of the game, punt it away and there's no way that Detroit's gonna drive on you that many times. The only way you're gonna give up that many points is turnovers, right? It's hilarious to watch him throw pick sixes, too, back to back. I loved it."

My first thought was, "Did Cooley retire and I missed it?" Because that's just not the kind of thing one current player says about another. It's the kind of thing a fan says about a player on a team he hates. Professional athletes are supposed to have more mutual respect for each other and for how hard the game is to play. It's all well and good if Cooley has something personal against Romo and wants to cackle to himself in the privacy of his own home. But to come out and say on a radio show that you enjoyed watching another guy fail? Not saying you enjoyed the fact that a team in your division lost so you gained ground on them, but saying you took personal enjoyment out of a fellow football player's failure? That doesn't ring right, and it's not very professional.

I don't care about the cage-fighting stuff because that was silly and jokey and harmless. I listened to the audio to be sure before I came here to write this, and I didn't find anything about that part of it worth commenting on. But the part where he calls Romo a choker doesn't seem remotely appropriate. If a Redskins fan calls into the LaVar and Dukes show to call Romo a choker and say how much he enjoyed watching him choke away the game (which he did do, by the way), that's one thing. But for another active NFL player to do it? I'm sorry. Just silly.

What if Cooley and Romo end up on the same team someday? What if one of Romo's defensive teammates, who happens to really like Romo, decides to seek out Cooley personally in the next Cowboys-Redskins game and exact revenge? And what about professional respect and courtesy? Would it be all right with Cooley if he dropped three balls in the end zone and the Cowboys' backup tight end came out and laughed at him about it on the radio and said how awesome it was to watch?

Cooley likes to talk a lot, and say and write outrageous things. And someday that's liable to land him a spot on one of those studio shows like Deion. But for now, while he's still playing in the same league as Romo, it's flat-out wrong for him to have said what he said. When someone like me criticizes an NFL player, other NFL players will often chide me for not knowing how hard it is to do what the player was trying to do. Cooley should know better, and he really should apologize.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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