Magazines may be an endangered species in the digital era, but there are still a few things they do that garner attention. One of the biggest special issues of all is Time Magazine's annual Person of the Year award, which was just announced. As was noted by the magazine's representative, the award is not about who was the most successful or who accomplished the most notable things. It is about who had the most significant influence on the world.
Since we have no shame about being derivative here, that raises the question of who is the Person of the Year for the Dallas Cowboys? Now, one approach to that would be to list several players, coaches, and executives who played major roles in 2015 and pick one, or perhaps open it up to a vote. But this has been a strange year for the Star, and after a very, very brief consideration, there is no point in all that. There is no question about the one individual who had the most impact on the team and the season this year. It is not because of what he did, of course. It is about what his absence caused.
Tony Romo is the only choice.
His injuries (which qualifies his left clavicle as the Body Part of the Year, I suppose) totally drove the results for the team. In the first game of the season, his cool performance in the waning minutes changed what should have been a loss into a victory, which is the exact opposite of what happened in several of the games involving his replacements. Without him, the team staggered through seven consecutive losses. It took his return to get the Cowboys back into the win column and infuse any hope at all of salvaging the season. His second fracture likely put things out of reach, although his own problems in that game against the Carolina Panthers indicated that he probably was not as ready as had been hoped.
But it cannot be argued that the Romo saga was and continues to be the most watched and reported of all the storylines about the most watched and reported team in the NFL. His first stint on the sidelines became a countdown to his return, accompanied by multiple national stories that offered contradictory and erroneous estimates of when he could play again. And his second bout sitting out games looks to be at least as closely scrutinized, with the sight of him tossing some casual balls while his teammates were warming up in Washington drawing attention and analysis of how well his bone was healing.
Ironically, his loss finally convinced all the doubters of just how valuable he is to his team. The obvious struggles the team had without him proved beyond a doubt that he is the engine of the franchise, and the team is depending on him to return from his injuries and lead them for at least another couple of years. The decision to keep him on the active roster rather than return him to injured reserve status is just further confirmation of how much Dallas relies on him. In the highly unlikely, but still possible, event that the team can get to the playoffs with Matt Cassel taking snaps, the staff has shown that they think their only real chance of going anywhere beyond a one and done rests with Romo.
There were other notable people for the Cowboys this year, in a variety of ways. Multiple other players were injured, controversy of varying degrees arose around Greg Hardy, Dez Bryant, and the departed Joseph Randle, and there is always the nearly omnipresent and never silent owner and general manager, Jerry Jones. But compared to the effect Romo's absence from the field had, all those are, if not insignificant, certainly of much lesser import.
This was the year of Romo's absence, when a team with such high hopes fell so far. It was his loss that is universally seen as the major reason for the decline. Although the team has other issues this season, it is recognized that he led a very similar roster to the playoffs last year. His presence overcame the weaknesses. Without him, the flaws won out, at least so far. For better or worse, and you can forget the better, Tony Romo is the Dallas Cowboys' Person of the Year for 2015.