With two Super Bowl contenders reportedly interested in his services, Tony Romo opted to retire Tuesday, abruptly ending his 13-year career to pursue a job as an analyst instead of possibly joining the Broncos or Texans.
The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback has had more than his share of highs with the Cowboys and some pretty memorable lows, leaving his football résumé mostly devoid of playoff success. So why would he leave when the Broncos and Texans – two franchises that could make a run at the Super Bowl with the right quarterback at the helm – apparently were intrigued by the idea of adding Romo?
Skip Bayless took to Facebook Live on Tuesday and said Romo’s announcement showed the 36-year-old’s true colors – that he didn’t have a burning desire to win.
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“I’m still just dumbfounded but I feel enlightened. I’m pleasantly shocked because I still can’t believe Tony Romo is walking away from some plum NFL jobs to take this one out of football, willing to walk completely away, even though there are multiple reports, and I even think Tony said publicly that the door is slightly ajar for him to return if in fact something opens up out of desperation, where somebody who’s really good suddenly needed a really good quarterback because of injury.
“I’m still shocked that Tony Romo would want out at age 36, 37 as he goes into that year to play football. And he’s played a grand total of five games over the last two years – and I’m counting one of those five was the last regular-season game at Philly last year that didn’t really count for anybody’s sake. And he had that one sort of sizzle reel – one series boom, boom, boom, touchdown to Terrance Williams – and that was it. That effectively capped off as we know now Tony Romo’s playing career."
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Just doesn't want it bad enough
“My point is I know so many football players – I told Shannon [Sharpe] on 'Undisputed' this morning I’ve known more players than he’s played with just because I’ve covered it for so long. And 95 percent of them have to be dragged, they have to be told to go home. And I brought up again this morning that Tom Brady’s father a couple of years ago was quoted in the New York Times as saying he fears the day that someone’s going to have to throw a straitjacket on his son and drag Tom Brady off the football field because he can’t play anymore.
“And that’s what usually happens; you have to get told that your football life has now come to death; as they say it’s your football mortality. It’s over. You’re never going to play again. And it’s a shocking realization; it’s hard to swallow. It’s why so many athletes that I work with got quickly into broadcasting because they could sort of scratch the itch."
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Nothing to show for all those numbers
“Tony doesn’t have much to show for all those gaudy numbers that he put up as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Spectacular starting record and we know he’s got records – all the passing records for the Cowboys just on longevity. And we know that he came from nowhere – from Eastern Illinois, as an undrafted free agent. But in the end the guy that I kept trying all those years to embrace, to trust, revealed himself to me in the end to be the guy I could never trust. The guy who didn’t really love football that much. The guy who was cavorting, as we remember, with Jessica Simpson and went to Cabo San Lucas along with Jason Witten and his wife in the bye week ahead of the playoffs back in 2007. And of course they had the first-round bye just like this year’s team did, a home game and that one was against Eli Manning, and you know what happened.
“The point is what does Tony now have to show in the grand scheme of things for all those gaudy numbers? A couple of playoff wins. But still he often came up short when it’s time to stand tallest. And I thought he had a chance this year – you want to talk about plum opportunities. He had plum opportunities everywhere because of the sizzle reel that he gave us in Philly. Obviously, the Broncos need a quarterback. I don’t care what you say. It’s Trevor Siemian or bust. I get it they draft Paxton Lynch, but he disappointed in the few times he got to play last year. I was a mild fan of his, I’m just not sure, and Trevor Siemian had his moments but they’re stuck between … a rock and a hard place. And in Houston, they’re stuck. They got rid of Brock Osweiler in a miraculous recovery and they’re stuck with Tom Savage and/or Brandon Weeden."
No burning desire to win
"But most of those kinds of quarterbacks, if you have true burning desire — if you have a rage to win, to prove yourself as an undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois — you just don’t walk away because once you close the door – even though he says it’s cracked open, it’s about to close permanently. … I thought they would have to drag away Tony Romo the way they’re ultimately going to have to drag away Tom Brady because I thought he had that kind of fire inside him, but no. He’s willing to walk away of his own choice and volition with opportunities everywhere. If he plays it out and forces Jerry’s hand – it might have taken up to training camp – I just think Jerry at some point would have to let him go. Or, my pet theory that I told you all along, Jerry loves him so much that at some point Jerry was so torn over this that he’d give him a chance to win back his Cowboys job in training camp.
“OK, so you have a chance to play maybe for the Dallas Cowboys, probably for the Houston Texans and perhaps for John Elway’s Denver Broncos. Those are three teams that have all the parts in place – other than at quarterback – to make a Super Bowl run and you’re gonna walk away from that? It’s not like you’re walking away from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now you have three opportunities; if you just play the chess game out, you could have had one of them. I’m convinced you could have had one of those opportunities and it might have ended up the Dallas one, which is the one he wanted in his heart of hearts. So Jerry was stuck on this because I thought Bob McNair, the Houston owner, nailed this the other day at the league meetings when he told USA Today that Jerry’s stuck between the rock and the hard place."
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“Here he had a chance if he played it out, played the chess game right, he could have gone somewhere and have a Super Bowl shot for the first real time in his life. … So Jerry Jones is stuck this time. He thinks Tony can win it for somebody, win a Super Bowl, and there was no way that he was going to give him up because he needed to show that he got something in return. What would Jerry’s worst nightmare be? It would be that Tony went somewhere else and won a Super Bowl when Jerry kept saying ‘I told you so.’ And people would turn to Jerry and say ‘How could you let him go for nothing?’
“All of a sudden, last night, Tony said ‘Game over.’ And he showed you his true colors, that he just didn’t care that much about adding the exclamation point to his legacy as opposed to leaving it with another big question mark. It wasn’t that he took the money and ran. … He showed you, ‘I don’t care that much about my career. I got all these potential opportunities to put the exclamation point. I don’t care. I’m done.'”