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Tony Romo's Lockout Leadership, What Does It Really Mean?

With so little news out of the NFL these days, what with the lockout and all, you have to reach for something to get your football fix - and to grab a little good news about your team. So let's point to the informal workouts being held by the Cowboys and being led by their QB, Tony Romo. OCC did an outstanding job of rounding up some quotes from Romo about the workouts, the part I like best is Romo running around with the whistle, keeping the time on drills and moving guys to the next thing.

Romo takes a lot of flak about not being a leader at QB, the position that is naturally expected to show leadership. It's hard to judge from the outside just what type of leader Romo really is, we're not privy to a lot of things that go on during the games and during practices. Plus, leadership comes in all different styles. No one really cares about how they get it done - well, except for maybe Jason Garrett who loves process - they just care about the results. But when I hear about Romo acting as the coach during these drills, and about his plan to get even more players involved, I think he's fulfilling the promise of QB-as-leader.

This will be a strange offseason, and these informal workouts could go a long way towards deciding who the playoff teams are in 2011, assuming the season happens. Guys need a break after a long football season, but after a few months, it's time to get back into shape, to start concentrating on executing plays. Basically, it's time to get the mental and physical back into training.

Says Romo:

''Being back on the field, guys get their juices flowing a little bit,'' Romo said. ''It's not really work when you're out there. You can tell when guys are running around, they're enjoying it.''

Romo loves competition. That's why he likes to try out for the U.S. Open every year. This annual occurrence seems to rub some people the wrong way. I've come to embrace it. Athletes, just like the rest of us, need time away from their jobs, Romo likes to spend his playing golf.

As with most things, these criticisms of Romo's leadership probably stem from something else. In this case, it's probably Romo's personality. He seems more like the fun, exuberant friend than he does the taskmaster that some prefer. Even now that he's maturing in age, he's still plays like the young QB who fist-pumps, jumps into a lineman's arms, or any manner of things to celebrate big plays. With his easy smile and backwards hat, he seems more like the kid brother than the older brother who's the leader.

Maybe, in some way, this lockout will be a good thing for Tony Romo. It's forced his hand, even if that hand didn't really need to be forced. It's one thing to be a leader as a QB, but in essence, Romo is having to be a leader as a coach. Perhaps that will give him some more perspective on things, and will force the rest of the guys to view him in a little different light.

More Romo:

''We need them to buy in to committing to being at this, No. 1, and also to being energized and passionate when they're out there because it's going to trickle down,'' he said. ''That group then feels the need to be out there and the need to get better and to compete when we're out there. We have a bunch of great guys, a bunch of leaders and people who are committed to doing this. I think it's been a great offseason so far, it really has for us.''

If the Cowboys win big this year, there will be plenty of reasons why. And by then, we might have forgotten all about the dead days of May. But, right now could be a defining moment. The Cowboys players needed a shakeup. Complacency certainly seems to have been a problem last year. And over the last few years, the Cowboys have ping-ponged around from good, to bad, to mediocre to whatever.

By the middle of last season, it felt like this team needed an intervention. They needed smelling salts to clear their collective heads. They got it in Jason Garrett. Now they're getting in the informal workouts thanks to the lockout. They're getting a Tony Romo who has taken full control of his team.

From what little news there is - that's the good news.

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