I still remember the first time that I saw Tony Romo throw a football in that October 2006 game when he replaced Drew Bledsoe under center. It was an interception.
I was a junior in college at the time, and after a glorious start to my Cowboys fandom as a young boy in the Aikman, Smith, Irvin years I had suffered horrible football all through middle school and high school. I just needed something to give me hope.
And the next week Romo gave me that hope. He led the Cowboys to a dominant victory on Sunday Night Football in the first start of his career. The stats weren’t crazy, but you could tell that there was something there. It was such a huge improvement over the dumpster fire that Cowboys fans had to watch at QB since the end of the Aikman era.
Over the next 10 years Tony Romo delivered so many highs in the form of 4th quarter comebacks and playoff berths, and so many lows in the form of ill-timed interceptions or botched snaps. Being the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is not an easy position. No matter how well you perform it will never be good enough, and Romo suffered that fate. He was labeled a choker despite having the best 4th quarter QBR of all time. A handful of bad plays resulted in years of gifs and memes that colored his persona not only to the national fan base, but to Cowboys fans as well. Perfection was the only option for so many people.
While Romo was not perfect on the field, he was damn good on the field and once again made the Cowboys relevant. We went to the playoffs, won a few playoff games, and, injury seasons aside, were always in running. Being a Cowboys fan was fun again.
But were Romo really shined was off the field. There were constant stories of the good deeds he performed around DFW, whether it was taking a homeless man to the movies, or stopping to help fix a flat tire on his way home from a road game.
After years of model citizenship, it should have been no wonder to anyone how he handled the 2016 season as Dak Prescott took over the reigns of the offense. He handled everything with class and humility, so obviously he handled losing his job in the same manner.
Wherever Tony Romo ends up playing football this coming season, I wish him the best. But to me, he will always be a Dallas Cowboy.
See you in Canton, Mr. Romo.