While still an ESPN analyst and before heading off with his anointing oil to resurrect yet another storied NFL franchise from a self-dug grave, Bill Parcells shared a list he had given to Tony Romo while he was the coach of the Cowboys. Admittedly, I am no Big Bill fan. He doesn’t need any additional fans; he is his own cheering section. He takes up all of the seats, so if you are going to be a Tuna fan, it’s standing-room only. I am, however, an admirer of his football genius. The man knows the game. He also knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful NFL player and leader of men.
Here are the commandments Parcells shared that Monday night in 2007:
1. Press or t.v., agents or advisors, family or wives, friends or relatives, fans or hangers on, ignore them on matters of football, they don’t know what’s happening here.
2. Don’t forget to have fun, but don’t be the class clown. Clowns and leaders don’t mix. Clowns can’t run a huddle.
3. A quarterback throws with his legs more than his arms. Squat and run. Fat quarterbacks can’t avoid the rush.
4. Know your job cold. This is not a game without errors. Keep yours to a minimum. Study.
5. Know your own players. Who’s fast? Who can catch? Who needs encouragement? Be precise. Know your opponent.
6. Be the same guy everyday. In condition, preparing to lead, studying your plan. A coach can’t prepare you for every eventuality. Prepare yourself and remember, impulse decisions usually equal mistakes.
7. Throwing the ball away is a good play. Sacks, interceptions, and fumbles are bad plays..Protect against those.
8. You must learn to manage the game. Personnel, play call, motions, ball handling, proper reads, accurate throws, play fakes. Clock, clock, clock, don’t you ever lose track of the clock.
9. Passing stats and td passes are not how you’re gonna be judged. Your job is to get your team in the endzone and that’s how you’re gonna be judged.
10. When all around you is in chaos, you must be the hand that steers the ship. If you have a panic button, so will everyone else. Our ship can’t have panic buttons.
11. Don’t be a celebrity quarterback. We don’t need any of those. We need battlefield commanders that are willing to fight it out everyday, every week, and every season, and lead their team to win after win after win.
Now, here’s the question. How has Tony graded out so far? Is he keeping the commandments he reportedly kept handy and referenced on a regular basis? Or has he transgressed and therefore regressed in his development as a quarterback? Let’s have a look…
- On the matter of listening to football outsiders who may be personal insiders when it comes to football…who knows? Only Tony knows how much he allows Jessica Simpson, her dad, the media, bloggers, the old lady behind him in the grocery line and sundry other hangers on to impact his thinking and approach to the game.
- On having fun, no one would ever accuse Romo of anything less. Just look at his possum-eating-peat seed grin or the way he gives a ref a slap on the butt after a great play. But in the matter of class clown: well, maybe…
- Squatting and running. I don’t get to watch his daily workout routine (and thankfully, he doesn’t have to watch mine.) He isn’t fat. He does, however, seem to be subject to wearing down as the season wears on. Just compare his December numbers with those in September and October.
- Knowing the job; minimizing errors. Fail! When a quarterback says a pick is just like a punt, he doesn’t know his job cold.
- Know your own players and your opponent. AMostl indications are that Romo is studious, that he works hard at his craft. There have, however, been murmurings about sloppy practices. Hmmm.
- “Impulse decisions usually equal mistakes.” Is Tony impulsive? Is maple syrup sweet? Do roosters crow in the morning? Do coaches hate those halftime on-the-way-to-the-locker-room interviews?
- Protect the ball; throw it away when necessary. (Cough) Fail.
- Clock and game management. I think Tony is actually one of the better quarterbacks at managing the clock and the game…in September and October.
- Get to the End Zone. Are we talking September or December?
- Don’t panic. We have seen some of that, especially in Decem…oh, you know.
- Don’t be a celebrity quarterback. You mean like getting on stage and singing with your favorite band or keeping a high profile with your high profile girlfriend and stuff? Not Tony!
I won’t say Tony Romo is failing as the quarterback of this team. Not yet. It’s too early. He’s got too much promise to send him to remedial classes at this point. It might be helpful, though, if he wants to pass the coming tests – the ones that will either etablish his name among the greats of Cowboys lore or reduce him to a quivering mass of might have been – to keep a copy of Bill’s cheat sheet handy. Read it, Tony. Memorize it. Then, just do it.