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How much did Romo play into Jerry's decision?

3/5/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Over the past few days, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has talked about making the offense more "Romo-friendly." Now we know what he meant.

On Wednesday evening, Jones made the stunning decision to cut ties with Terrell Owens. After he'd spent so much time enabling the wide receiver, he ended up yanking the carpet out from under him. And the franchise will be better off for it.

As I wrote in a column this morning, Jones is about to tell us how this move will allow wide receiver Roy Williams to become the focal point of the offense. Not to bring up a bad subject, but Williams finished with 19 catches and 198 yards in 10 games in '08. And we listened to Jones talk about how "ecstatic" T.O. was when he found out the Cowboys had traded for Williams. The plan was for Williams to take some of the pressure off T.O. and possibly help him avoid constant double coverage. It didn't work.

Jones gave up a major portion of his 2009 draft for Williams, so he has to make this work. But Williams isn't the real reason T.O.'s gone. No, that would be quarterback Tony Romo.

T.O.'s constant carping took its toll on Romo late in the '08 season. And the stories about Romo's favoritism toward Jason Witten embarrassed the quarterback. T.O. and Romo had a relationship that played well publicly at times, but behind the scenes they had no use for each other.

I've heard at least one local columnist suggest that T.O.'s departure might cause even more chemistry issues in the locker room because players in T.O.'s camp might blame Romo and Witten -- or even the Smartest Guy In The Room, Jason Garrett. I wouldn't worry about that. T.O.'s influence in this locker room was strong, but it will quickly fade.

T.O. was the most charismatic player on the team, and he had a devoted following. But it's not like he's going to hang around Dallas. He thought he was invincible because he'd always had Jones' ear. But when you pay a quarterback a guaranteed $30 million, that's the guy who has your ear. It took a while for Jones to get that through his head, but he's making progress.

For the best coverage of the T.O. fallout in Dallas, keep hitting refresh every 30 seconds. I know my Eagles fans are loving this. And my Giants and Redskins readers probably aren't far behind.