IRVING, Texas — In 1998, a Dallas Cowboys quarterback missed a minicamp due to a “minor surgery” to remove something from his back.
That was Troy Aikman. This is Tony Romo.
In terms of the flood of outrage and humor directed at Romo, who did not participate in the team’s OTA’s that began Tuesday and who might need a few more weeks to full recover, the difference might just be that Aikman won three Super Bowls.”
“You’ve got to be smart this time of year, and I understand that,” said Romo, explaining that if the Cowboys were readying for an actual game, he would be able to participate. “At the same time, you’re ready to go, and you want to get back and get into it.”
Romo’s procedure involved the removal of a cyst from his back, something that caused him to make mention to friends way back on April 10 of a “back problem.” I’m told that the projected recovery time of a month suggests something of a complication: “A deep-tissue cyst” or “a cyst very near the spine.” All still benign. All still nothing to panic over, just as was the case with Aikman’s procedure to have melanoma removed.
But we don’t tell jokes about “America’s Team” QBs with three Super Bowl rings. Romo now has as many cysts on his back as he has rings on his fingers. So we question him about it and we clown him about it and we say things like, “Jerry Jones swears that Tony Romo’s cyst has the ability to be just as good as Peyton Manning’s cyst ever was!”
Oh, and we idiotically question the timing: “Did he sign that six-year, $108-million contract while hiding the cyst news from the Cowboys owner?”
And we idiotically question his toughness: “There’s a lady in my office who had a cyst removed and was back to work in a day!”
The Cowboys were rather secretive here, and maybe that merits some criticism. But Romo talked fairly openly of the situation Tuesday after bouncing around the Valley Ranch practice fields, serving as an unofficial assistant, talking over route-running with Dez Bryant, and soft-tossing on the sideline while understudy Kyle Orton took his on-field spot.
There are real issues here, even as Romo will undoubtedly be ready for training camp. The Cowboys are installing some new facets to their offense – Romo may be more involved in gameplan design, the “12 Personnel” may be their base offense and coach Jason Garrett seems to be relinquishing playcalling duties to coordinator Bill Callahan – and it would be nice to have the star QB in uniform for all of those things.
“I think the older you get as a football player and a quarterback, I think you gain a little bit of an understanding about the game and how you can develop, through experience, over time,” Romo said of a deepened involvement. “You start to understand the game differently as time passes. … For me, I believe in some things that I think can help us win football games. You have great communication with the coaches. We all talk about things and we go from there. Everyone is just trying to help the football team win.”
As was the case with Aikman, missing a spring workout due to a minor surgery isn’t the same as missing a game. It doesn’t deserve the same level of scrutiny or the same level of outrage or even the same level of clowning …
Though we cannot stop ourselves from noting that even though Tony Romo’s gotten the cyst of his back, the monkey remains.