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Monday, February 9, 2009
The Romo leadership conference

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

After watching the Grammys last night, I decided to stay up and watch our local CBS affiliate's exclusive interview with Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. CBS 11 anchor (and Troy Aikman's former clipboard holder) Babe Laufenberg sat down with Romo in a suite at the Four Seasons and covered a variety of topics, including the Cowboys' lack of leadership.

Here's the exchange, which is brought to us by Tim MacMahon, the bureau chief of the blog formerly known as "Matt Mosley's Cowboys Blog."

Ch. 11's Babe Laufenberg asked Tony Romo whether the framework was in place for a leader (or leaders) to emerge at Valley Ranch.

"Oh, yeah. No question," Romo said. "What are you referring to, Jerry?"

Babe replied by pointing out that it certainly didn't seem like anybody stepped to the forefront last season.

"We didn't win," Romo answered. "It's simple. It's kind of dumb."

Babe said that when a team isn't winning, that's when a guy ...

"Does what?" Romo interrupted. "Yells at everybody and then you win?"

Then Romo delivered a [lecture] on leadership.

"You wanna know why Michael Jordan was a great leader? He won six NBA championships. Then, all of a sudden, when he gets in people's faces, he's a great leader."

(Editorial comment from Mosley: Michael Jordan was a great leader before he left Chapel Hill, N.C.)

"A great leader is someone who wins, and you figure out how to win. Some people, it's getting in people's faces. Some people, it's being positive. Other people, it's walking the line and doing it the right way. And that guy shows everybody else, because they see him doing it, and they figure out, 'I'm going to walk in that line, too, and do it.'

"You know, there's many different ways to do it. I think people who sit there and say they need to see leadership, well, they're kidding themselves. Because if you need to see someone be a leader, they're probably not a leader all the time.

(Editorial comment from Mosley: Sorry, but I think the Steelers can "see leadership" in Mike Tomlin. You can see it in his day-to-day actions. But something tells me his leadership is what provided the framework for the winning -- not the other way around. If the Cowboys think they have to win before leaders start to emerge, they'll be waiting a long time.)

"You can look back and say, 'Oh, we should have done talking more.' ... I don't know that ... When somebody talks to me, it does nothing as far as, OK, thank you. Just leave me alone for a second. I need to think about what I need to do to improve on the next play. Or give me some technical aspect that you can use. 'Listen, when the corner is sitting down doing this, you need to ....' That stuff will help you the next time you're out there.

"Saying, 'C'mon! Let's go! Get ready! C'mon! Do better!' ... OK, I will. (rolls eyes) It doesn't solve anything.

"I mean, we're not 18 or 17. We don't need to be motivated to play harder in that regard. I think you take the wrong gap or you do the wrong thing, in that regard, that's gonna hurt you. And it will look like you're not playing as hard, but the reality is you just went the wrong way or you did the wrong thing or you threw the wrong pass, whatever.

"I think that execution, if there's a way to execute better, then you need to lead in that regard. You need to figure out a way to help everybody execute better. But it's silly to me to think that someone telling you in your face, 'Do better next time' is going to make you do better next time. Tell me why. Show somebody what they need to do to do better next time. That will go a lot farther, I think."