You have to love it when an athlete manages to gig the media without ripping his own britches. Tony Romo did just that on Tuesday, when he was able to tell reporters they didn’t matter and get a giggle out of them.
Usually, taking on the media is a bad idea, since it is the media that so clearly controls the line of communication between athletes and fans. It does not take much to paint a player with a certain brush and pretty soon the tide of public opinion is against him.
When it comes to football players, Tony Romo is in perhaps the highest profile position in the country. Playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is akin to playing short stop for the New York Yankees. Or, really, it is akin to playing short stop, being the ace on the pitching staff and batting cleanup.
Dan Hanzus of NFL.com points out that Romo plays his hand with the media pretty well:
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Romo said the speculation that comes attached to his name has no effect on his life.
“Not trying to be rude, but you guys just don’t matter,” Romo said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The comment drew a laugh from media members before Romo continued.
“I know you guys all have a job to do, and it helps grow the game and there’s a lot of talk about the game, and it’s a wonderful aspect of it,” he said. “But good (or) bad, none of it matters. It’s going to be played out on the field. No matter what, we’re going to have to open up the football season against the New York Giants, and whether you said great things or whether you guys may have said the Cowboys are whatever — the best ever, the worst ever, they can’t ever, they can — it doesn’t matter. You’ve still got to show up, and you’ve got to play.
“All the other stuff is for people to talk about and enjoy. To me, when you sit there and look at it, it just doesn’t matter. It’s just stuff.”
You have to have thick skin to be the quarterback of the Cowboys. You can dislike Romo as a quarterback, but it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t handle the media scrutiny at an expert level.
OK, Tony. So, what about the NFL Top 100 Players from 2012 thing? You worried that you don’t make that cut? Does that matter?
Here is a your answer, courtesy of Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News:
“Until I see one person who’s a Dallas Cowboy who votes on that stuff, I would figure at some point they’d ask me, Jason Witten or DeMarcus Ware to vote,” Romo said Tuesday. “I think then maybe it’s a vote by the players. But the four people who vote, I just don’t think it matters too much. I know this, I would have a hard time telling you who was great in the AFC last year. You just go by what’s written about and talked about.
“Once again, like I said, that stuff is fun to talk about, I enjoy taking a peek, seeing what’s happening. Then it’s just, OK cool, then it goes right on to the next day.”
With only the top 30 players left to be made public, it’s highly unlikely that Romo will make the cut.
Here are the quarterbacks that have already made the list: No. 43 Eli Manning, No. 46 Cam Newton, No. 51 Russell Wilson, No. 61 Ben Roethlisberger, No. 76 Matthew Stafford and No. 81 Colin Kaepernick.
Face it. Tony is right. These are things that are fun to talk about—to discuss and debate. They are off-season filler to keep fans engaged until kickoff. Nothing more.
Romo knows making some list for a TV series is not going to be the determining factor in how his performance is viewed. There is only one way for a quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys to forever endear himself to a once-spoiled, still proud fan base. It cannot be done with gaudy numbers or superior regular season play. It will not be accomplished by winning nice guy awards or being the darling of fantasy football leagues everywhere. It sure won’t be accomplished by winning over beat writers and whichever players get to vote on top 100 lists.
To quote the late Al Davis, it comes down to one thing: Just win, baby.
And by win, I mean win the way Staubach and Aikman won.
Win the big one, the whole enchilada, the Lombardi.
To Romo, that is what matters. That is what will ultimately determine whether he is remembered as over-hyped and overpaid.
You may not like Romo, but you have to appreciate his understanding of where he stands…and who (or what) really matters.