There are few NFL players more polarizing than Tony Romo. People who write about and just follow the NFL alike seem to either think very highly of him, or still believe he is a second-rate quarterback who chokes at crucial times. In past years, he has gotten the usual disproportionate credit for the lack of success of the Dallas Cowboys, but after the very strong year he had in 2014, he has not gotten the commensurate praise from many of the same sources. For fans of the team who have seen how much of the load he carried on his shoulders in the bad years, and who were so thrilled to see him have success last year, it is maddening. Especially when you consider that he is one of the better citizens in the league.
@TomRyleBTB I don't get it. Romo doesn't trash talk in the media. He doesn't get arrested. Never been suspended yet he is hated by all.— Tyshawn Hester (@TyshawnHester1) June 22, 2015
The latest example of this comes from John Clayton of ESPN. Now, I don't want to say the national ESPN site is at times a hotbed of anti-Romo sentiment, but the national ESPN site is at times a hotbed of anti-Romo sentiment. You think they would learn from the past, but apparently this little example continues to slip from their memories.
NFC East QBs, as ranked by Tim Hasselbeck. pic.twitter.com/xoVIIr1KUi— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) July 23, 2014
No, I most emphatically have not forgotten.
In his contribution to this often ludicrous viewpoint, Clayton was responding to a question about who he thought would be the best NFL quarterbacks over the next three years. The question came from someone in Dallas, who apparently was looking for some input on Romo's chance of being a top flight quarterback the next few seasons. But Clayton apparently did not see Romo as being in that discussion. He listed the top eight quarterbacks, as he saw it, over those three years. And Romo was not included once, not even as an honorable mention.
Oh, really? It seems Clayton was unimpressed by the very strong year that Romo had last season, when he tossed 34 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. Or the year before, when he was carrying a much heavier load and still had 31 TDs and only 10 INTs in 15 games. No weight was given to the fact he had the highest quarterback rating in the NFL in 2014. When he went on an absolute tear in December, and had his season end because the defense let the team down in failing to get to a hobbled Aaron Rodgers and the referees made a slightly questionable call on one of the best passes of the year. He didn't think Pro Football Focus' having Romo as the sixth best QB in the league counted, and their system uses a cumulative scoring that in effect cost him points because he was not having to carry the team. And it does look like Clayton has not heard that Romo is in the best health he has been in for years and got in a full workload in the OTAs and minicamp, where he looked very, very sharp.
Is this just ignorance or actual prejudice? I vote for a healthy dose of both. But I am admittedly a fan of the team and Romo. Would an objective writer see this the same way?
Do you consider Todd Archer, one of ESPN's team of Dallas beat writers, objective? Because he doesn't get Clayton's take, either.
Quarterback rankings are always a lively debate. Arguments and opinions are always going to differ.
But not to have Romo in the top 11?
If Bob in Dallas wants my answer for 2015 it would be this: Rodgers, Brady, Luck, Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Romo.
Ranked sixth may seem a bit low to many readers here, but it at least puts Romo clearly in the top ten, which from any objective analysis is hard to dispute. Rodgers and Brady are hard to argue with, but Andrew Luck has not really proven he is a top ten quarterback. His rating last season was a respectable but not spectacular 96.5. PFF had him eighth. Ben Roethlisberger I think is pretty much on a level with Romo, and Peyton Manning just does not quite have the magic he once did. A healthy Romo is clearly in the mix here, which is Archer's point.
Given that Romo has a superb offensive line, a couple of world class receivers in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, two more very good targets in Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, and a defense that we hope is going to take the next step, and this year's Cowboys may make it even farther this season. I won't make any predictions here, but I will state a hope that the Cowboys are going to make Clayton and his ilk eat their words.
But I don't expect them to give him any credit if the team does equal or better its success from last year. They seem to be genetically incapable of doing so.
And we are not going to forget.