I've always ignored the "Tony Romo doesn't care" talk.
Obviously he does. Remember the idiot kicker saying the same thing about Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy? Emotion is a tangible thing but desire is not. There are indicators but no definite barometer. Chuck Noll and Tom Landry were cold, distant and indifferent to some. They were leaders with steel resolve to others.
Todd Archer has a good column in the DMN on this subject, following his story on Romo vowing to be a better leader.
Romo acknowledged the 2008 season was the hardest on him physically. He fractured his pinkie and missed three games. He got kneed in the back against the Giants but didn't miss a play. He took a helmet to the chin in the season opener. He took a couple of other big shots.
He tried to play with the pinkie injury but couldn't. He played through everything else.
The notion that he doesn't care, to me, is off base.
Romo made it to the NFL by caring. You don't come from where he has come from and forget what you did to get there. He is a grinder, despite the off-field circles he runs in now. He likes the work that leads to the success.
To be honest, I really don't care if he cares, although I believe, subjectively, that he does. Does he care enough about his habits to stop them? Does he care enough about winning to curtail his habit of turning the ball over? That's what I care about. I care because that's really the only the part of his game that I have major problems with. He seems to be pretty accurate, mobile, clutch in certain situations and willing to look downfield when he scrambles. Without his turnovers, we'll in a better situation to win the Washington, Baltimore and Pittsburgh games. It's more than agonizing over losses, which he's clearly done in our recent playoff exits. It's more about connecting that pain with a habitual behavior.
Ultimately, I believe he does care and will change. But the conversation seems trival. Finding a good safety will probably provide more tangible benefit to our team than some public statement released by Romo proving he cares.
Show me that you care on the field, Tony. The postgame statements are for people working on a postgame deadline. I care about his actions on the field.
One of the things that bothers me about the Dallas media is that they seem to take pleasure in our failures while the fans our agonizing. You could almost hear JJT saying, "nyeh nyeh nyeh nyeh" as he proclaimed us the most gutless team in the history of all gutless teams. As if being a journalist and a columnist requires some type of expertise on valor. Randy Galloway and Little Balls of Hate have been yukking it up all season about our failures and this only intensified after the Philadelphia debacle (I refuse to call that game anything but that). They say we are in full crisis mode.
Fine. The players in this Cowboy drama called the 2008 season should have thick skins. Their actions deserve criticism and ridicule sometimes.
But call them out? The media? Swiftly you'll see a strange phenomenon: their skin is thinner than a teenage boy with acne. Drew Rosenhaus suddenly becomes "huffy" because he gets annoyed that a reporter asks him a question four different ways. Wade is suddenly "testy" because he doesn't want to talk to reporters, a group he should obviously bend over for. Is this the same group that's so quick to crack a joke about someone?
It seems like Nick Eatmen from DC.com is coming from the same place I am. He looks at the Cardinals, who have the same record as us, and sees a team that's a bounce or two away from having a very similar ending to their season. Instead, they're in the Super Bowl and everybody's singing their praises. That's fine. They deserve it. But if a flawed team like that can make it to the Super Bowl -- with a 9-7 record, in a weak division and with one of it's star receivers and coaches feuding -- maybe the Cowboys season isn't the disaster the local media has painted it out to be.
The point - yes, there is a point - is that the Cardinals, win or lose, won't be the class of the NFL. It's not because of their history, it's because of this team - this year.
Was Arizona's 9-7 any better than the Cowboys 9-7? You could argue that the Cardinals defeated Dallas in a tough overtime game in Arizona back in October. I'm sure no one with the Cowboys feared a potential rematch somewhere down the road.
But based on the schedule, and certainly the division, I would bet most teams and players around the league would tell you they would be much more worried about the Cowboys than the Cardinals in a one-game scenario.
Again, the point, that's how this league works. Arizona goes 9-7, and they're in the playoffs and now the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay goes 9-7 and fires Jon Gruden, who has won a Super Bowl with the franchise.
The Cowboys go 9-7 and the world just about comes to an end. Most fans with a loud voice want Wade Phillips to be fired as head coach.
We underachieved this year. But we didn't go 2-14 or even 5-11. We were a mediocre team. I know that's high treason in these parts. But we need to keep our season in perspective.
I get that most people don't like T.O. I also get that the people that are unsure about T.O. are consistently bomboarded by the majority to accept their premise.
Owens is a lot of things. Phenomenal athelete. Locker room cancer (as his detractors would say). Complainer. Hall of Fame receiver. Emotional. Sensitive. Bad rapper. Health nut.
But I've never heard someone say he's influential in the hiring and firing of coaches. Never heard that. That is until today.
John Czarnecki, a fixture at Foxsports.com, basically posits that T.O. had a hand in stopping Jason Garrett from securing the St. Louis Rams head coaching job. He really doesn't explain how, so, I guess we'll just have to take his word for it. He also says players respect Owens more than Romo, Jerry Jones likes Owens more than Romo and Owens made his teammates hate Jason Witten. Again, he doesn't explain how he knows this. He just does.
But the most curious thing in the article is how Owens derailed Garrett's chance at the St. Louis job.
Now, back to the Rams and where T.O. flexed his influence. During the search process, columnists and writers for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch started revealing flaws in Garrett's résumé — basically, that he's a very young coach who hasn't won a playoff game. But when the subject came to players, it was voiced that Garrett had a difficult time coaching black players. That is such a ridiculous assertion, but it gained so much steam in St. Louis that the fans accepted it as fact. On the day that Garrett thought he had a shot at becoming the head coach, the final paragraph in a Post-Dispatch news story was that hundreds of fans called the team's ticket office to complain about a Garrett hiring.
Within hours of those words hitting the newsstands, Garrett and his wife were boarding a plane for Dallas and the Rams started negotiating with current head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Somewhere in the background, T.O. had to be snickering. Mission accomplished.
I don't doubt Owens is a very persuasive person. I don't even doubt Owens is a powerful influence on our locker room.
But does he have the power to derail Garrett's job chances? Doesn't Garrett's job performance have more to do with that? Do you really think an owner or general manager is going to take Owens' influence into account when hiring a new coach? If that's the case, why does Todd Haley and Brad Childress have a job? Didn't he hate them too?
Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. Maybe Owens does have this influence. Maybe he walked into Jerry Jones' office one day and said, "He's gotta go. Him or me."
And Jones said, "Can't do that. But how 'bout we fire Brian Stewart instead? I'll throw in Bruce Read too. Will that placate you?"
Maybe Owens shrugged his shoulders and said, "Alright. Just this time."
Yeah. I don't think it sounds plausible either.