Romo: the most polarizing man in the world

"Dude Tony Romo sucks."

I was at my cousin's wedding this past weekend in Michigan and was enjoying visiting with friends and family, then suddenly things took a turn for the worse. I was shooting the you-know-what with my brother-in-law (Lions fan yuck) in some friendly football conversation, and then he uttered the words above: "Dude Tony Romo sucks, he's a choke artist" The logical side of me said "It's okay, let it go, this isn't the place, it's just a game, who cares," but the three long islands and whiskey and diet in me said "screw this, I'm giving him a piece of my mind." You can probably guess which side of me prevailed. My girlfriend shuttered with fear as she knew the can of worms that had just been opened.

I instantly fired back with a barrage of stats that supported my allegiance as a Romo-lover: "2nd best QB rating in December of anyone not-named Arron Rodgers since 2009, 20 game-winning drives (more than Brady at same stage in career), 102 QB rating in 4th quarter."

He countered with "QB is the single most important position in football, he has the single most control over the outcome of the game." (Valid point but wasn't going to give him the satisfaction.)

Being the smart-ass I am, I snarked back with "Oh so it's his fault the defense didn't make a single stop in Chicago and allowed 45 points? Romo really should have made more tackles and did more in the kick return game"

It was getting a little heated and mildly uncomfortable for everyone nearby. My sister and girlfriend both tried to change the subject with "So how about that snow?"

He still shrugged his shoulders and said "He needs to win more games, I still don't buy it." It was at that moment that I realized something that a brighter person would have years ago: there is no amount of quantitative data that will convert a Romo-hater into a Romo-lover or vice versa. It is a completely pointless debate. Romo is the most polarizing figure in sports. But why?

The perception of Romo as a choke artist can be explained by one date: January 6, 2007 and one simple freshmen-level psychology term: confirmation bias. The date date January 6,2007 is the date of the infamous botched snap in the wildcard game in Seattle. This was "the line in the sand" so to speak, meaning this was the date that everyone decided that they were either pro or anti-Romo. Confirmation bias basically means that people will believe what they want to believe, humans are biased by nature. Any evidence that supports your opinion is highlighted in your mind, and anything that disproves your opinion is ignored or dismissed as unimportant. So, on that fateful day in Seattle, if you were a Giants, Redskins, or pretty much a fan of anyone other than Jerry's boys, you instantly believed without a shadow of a doubt that Romo was a grade-A choke artist and there was nothing that could convince you otherwise. The game-winning drives in San Fran in 2011, the last-minute TD drive against Minnesota this year, were conveniently ignored. Never mind the 500+ pass yards and 5 TD passes in the Denver game, Romo threw a pick and the loss is 100% all his fault, despite the fact the defense couldn't stop a nose bleed and allowed 51 points. And conversely, I'm guilty of it too, as I am a huge Romo apologist. I will forgive him for untimely interceptions in Denver, Minnesota, or the Washington "elimination game" in week 17 of 2012.

So in conclusion, it goes both ways, either you love Romo or you hate him, there is little in-between gray area. My point is not to convert pro-Romo or anti-Romo fans, it's actually the opposite: fans everywhere need to stop fighting over this tired debate because it's pointless and a waste of energy. In the immortal words of Jackie Moon: "E.L.E. Everybody Love Everybody!"

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