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Back To The Subject Of Tony Romo's Back

People continue to obsess about how healthy the Cowboys quarterback may really be. They may be missing part of the picture.

Tony Romo getting in some quality therapy for his back.
Tony Romo getting in some quality therapy for his back.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The health of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has engendered one of the most overheated media watches since Princess Kate was nearing her due date. Every second he is not out on the field throwing the football is analyzed, scrutinized, and hyperbolized. His movements are studied for the first signs of his pending collapse. His expression is searched for the strain of the unbearable pain he must be experiencing. And all of it is taken as proof that he will be carted off the field, probably sometime in the opening quarter of the 49ers game, leaving Dallas to stagger to a 2-14 season.

As Kegbearer documented in his post on Romo, everyone is trying to misrepresent his statements in just about the worst way they can. But the worst interpretations of what comes from his mouth, and those of the staff and players on the team, pale besides many of the apocalyptic predictions made in the media based on their own observations.

One of the latest dire pronouncements came from the radio analyst and former backup quarterback  for the Cowboys, Babe Laufenberg.

"You better be prepared to see Brandon Weeden play some games this season," Laufenberg was saying over the phone from Oxnard this week.

He is not the first to come out and forecast that Romo could not get through the schedule. However, he does give some specific detail on why he thinks that way.

"I can see all the symptoms of a herniated disc the way Tony moves," Laufenberg said.

OK. Besides raising a few questions about Laufenberg's medical credentials, there is a serious problem with that. Just reading that in a straightforward manner, it is Babe saying that he sees evidence that Romo has a herniated disc now. That is what symptomology means. It is an indication of an extant problem.

So is he saying that Romo went though two back surgeries and they left a herniated disc unrepaired? Or is he saying there is a new injury that is being hidden? Both seem somewhat improbable.

Laufenberg is perhaps overly sensitive to this, since he had similar surgery and still has problems to this day with back spasms. It seems he is doing a bit of projecting of his own situation to Romo. And there is not any unanimity on how Romo is playing. One of the real go-to guys about what is happening with the Cowboys, Bryan Broaddus, has been downplaying most of the concerns. So has Birddog26, who primary job this season is apparently doing research to help the Cowboys reduce injuries.

A few days ago, Cowboys quarterback coach Wade Wilson made a very salient point about the situation. Romo, and the team, won't be fully certain of his recovery until the first time he takes a real NFL hit.

"That's exactly right," Wilson said. "Right now we're just seeing if he can throw in all the drills and not have any soreness the next day and continually build on that and the next step after that would obviously be if he could take a hit."

Obviously, the team is not going to stand Romo up and let Henry Melton level him a time or two to test things. He is still in recovery, despite the many statements (including from Wilson) about how much further along he is this season than he was last year. One of the points Birddog made is that while everyone is basing their evaluation of how ready or not he is on how much he participates on the practice field, he is going through a lot they never see. Romo is doing somewhere between two and four hours a day of rehab and exercise to build up his core and maximize his flexibility, strength, and durability. That kind of physical therapy involves a lot of effort, and can be both physically and mentally draining. The team has to take that into account in scheduling Romo. Most of the people solemnly proclaiming that Weeden is going to have to carry the team are not including that out of sight effort in their calculations, or at least do not fully grasp how taxing it is. Additionally, given what is already established about Romo's abilities, the rehab stuff is more important right now.

Besides, you always want to be careful with a franchise quarterback. All Dallas has done is ramp that up a bit, and not by any outlandish amount.

While there is always a bit of a caveat with anything coming out of the Cowboys organization that they sometimes tell you what they want you to hear, not what is really going on, there do not seem to be any deep, dark secrets about Romo's back. He is still in recovery. That recovery is being paced to coincide with the start of the regular season, including managing very closely just how much time he will play in preseason games. Of course he is less active than he was before the surgeries. He does give every sign of being further along now than he was a year ago.

It would be quite interesting to see how Romo's activities compare to those of other quarterbacks coming off surgeries or major injuries. Peyton Manning had to go through something similar. And many wondered if he would ever be effective again. Well, for 18 games last season, he was more than effective (we'll forget that last one).

There is such a thing as borrowing trouble. In the case of Tony Romo's back, there is not much to be gained from looking for signs of failure. Any quarterback is one play away from injured reserve every time he steps on the field. No matter how concerned the guys lounging around on the sidelines are about Romo, he is not really different from the other 31 men in the same job.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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