For the second day in a row, the real story continues to be the fallout from Tony Romo deciding to leave the field and take a plum job as the lead NFL analyst for CBS Sports.
Tony Romo's legacy is uncertain, and hard to figure out. This article by Louis Bien thinks that one of his problems was that he was just too nice at times - although that very trait may have helped get him his new broadcasting gig.
That's sort of the deal with being a nice, innocuous fella: People only think to praise you when you're gone. How Romo is ultimately remembered remains to be seen. His Hall of Fame case isn't great without a Super Bowl, even though he was much more prolific than Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman, two Cowboys quarterbacks who are in Canton.
More likely, Romo will be one of the most forgettably great quarterbacks we have ever seen — someone who no one could hate but was never deeply loved, like that Best Picture winner that didn't stand the test of time. Romo is The English Patient, basically.
Just a couple of moments looking over this list will probably make you wonder, "What in the world were the Houston Texans thinking by sitting on the sidelines when Romo was still on the market?"
It's not a great year to need a quarterback in the NFL.
The Denver Broncos were once seen as being, along with the Houston Texans, a good landing spot for Romo if he had continued his playing career. They seemed to cool to the idea a few weeks back, and it turns out that John Elway doubted Romo's commitment to the game. Now the question is whether Elway made a good read, or helped create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But a recent report suggests Broncos boss John Elway was hesitant to bring Romo aboard due to his concern the quarterback wasn't "all-in" on pursuing a Super Bowl championship.
Mike Klis of Denver's KUSA-TV reports the Broncos backed off any interest in bringing in Romo in any way about four weeks ago after Elway wasn't sold on the quarterback's "commitment."
For the most part, Romo sounds to be very much settled on his new career. But David Helman is just not certain about playing being completely over for him.
"Do I think I'm going to get some calls? I'm sure I will," he said. "There's not enough quarterbacks as is to win 12 games in the NFL anyway. So I do feel like, for me, the reality is that's going to happen."
Now, Romo was quick to follow that comment by saying he doesn't think that decision will be difficult. He went a step further by saying he's "99 percent" certain that he has retired for good.
But 99 percent is not 100 percent. Everyone in the world was 99 percent certain that Romo would take his starting job back from Dak Prescott when he was healthy enough to play last fall.
Babe Laufenberg feels the idea of Romo returning to play football again is just a pipe dream.
The notion that Romo will come out of the broadcast booth riding a white horse is ridiculous. He has played very limited football the last two years due to his health. To think that at 37 he will be ready to go would be seeing the glass way beyond half full. He can still throw the football. But I swear, Roger Staubach can still throw it and he is 75 years old. Ditto for Troy Aikman at 50. Your body can only take so much of a beating, and Romo's has unfortunately hit its expiration date.
One thing has been noted: At no time has Romo himself stated unequivocally that he is actually retired.
"Right now, I'm telling you that I don't think it's going to be that hard of a decision," he said. "I'm going to get in the booth, I'm going to like it, it's going to be a challenge, and I'm excited. I just don't envision that really being something that I'm going to have to think long and hard about."
Only time will tell if that turns out to be true. Romo sounded confident his playing career is over - though perhaps not a full 100 percent.
"It's one of those things you do - you never say never," he said. "But I'd tell you it's about 99 percent."
Is this a bit of an ironic observation from Jean-Jacques Taylor?
To outsiders, it looked as though Jones was preventing Romo from continuing to chase his football dream. They lambasted the owner in social media and sports talk radio shows for allegedly violating the "do-right" agreement he had entered with Romo, especially when the Cowboys didn't release Romo at the start of free agency last month as he indicated he would. The reality is the time created an opportunity for Romo to determine the best path for the rest of his life.
There has been a lot of skepticism about the whole idea of bringing a novice color analyst on board as part of the number one coverage team for CBS. Barry Horn points out that the network had a Phil Simms problem, and may have felt a somewhat radical solution was the best way to go.
Let's face it: CBS handed Romo the keys to the penthouse because it had tired of Simms, just as he sounded tired of calling games. The constant criticism that accompanied his work could not have gone unnoticed.
Peter King offered a take on Romo's future as an analyst.
"I was just listening back to a podcast I did with him last year on the final day of Cowboys training camp that, when he got hurt and it looked like he might be out for the year, we decided to use it immediately. We decided to just put it up. I was listening to it and what struck me is how informative and analytical he is about football, about football players, about the quarterback position, about the unlikeliness of what happened to him. And so I think you look at that and you say, 'OK, look, can Tony Romo be really good at speaking in eight-second increments? And in imparting information and smart things about football in eight-second increments?" Because that's the life of a color guy on TV."
Todd Archer has seen all but one of Tony Romo's games with the Cowboys, and is one of the best beat reporters covering the Cowboys. His reflections carry a bit more weight than many.
When Romo was on the field, you always felt the Cowboys had a chance. The Cowboys were only able to sniff de facto NFC East Championship Games from 2011 to 2013 because of Romo. Without Romo, those 8-8 finishes would have looked similar to the 5-11 finishes from 2000 to 2002.
I've seen him have five interceptions and win (Buffalo, 2007). I've seen him throw five touchdown passes and lose (Denver, 2013).
I've seen him play with a punctured lung and broken rib (San Francisco, 2011) and be unable to flip the collar down on his dress shirt. I've seen him in so much pain after a game that he could not carry his travel bag. I've seen him in so much joy after a win that he looked like he was floating as he walked down a stadium hallway.
The Dallas Morning News writers shared their thoughts about Romo and his legacy. They had a lot of valid points on both sides of the ledger. But David Moore came up with a personal story that may give a little insight into the man that wore the Star.
Romo used to wear his baseball cap backwards during interviews. When we were chatting one day I told him I probably received more e-mail criticizing him for doing that than anything else. He was genuinely surprised. Another writer joined the conversation and told him the same thing.
The next day was Romo's weekly interview in front of his locker. His cap was again on backward. He sat down, looked right at me and smiled. He then slowly turned his cap around and began the interview.
For many, the only thing that matters in defining an NFL quarterback is how many rings they won. Which seems oddly shortsighted, given how much of a team sport the NFL is.
"Super Bowls define us," said (Steve) Young, who now has a bust in Canton. "You can spend the rest of your career playing terrific football, even MVP football. But it won't do what a Super Bowl does."
Which brings us to Tony Romo, who retired from the NFL this week.
What is the legacy of a quarterback who passed for Dallas franchise records of 34,183 yards and 248 touchdowns but couldn't win in January?
Romo holds just about every team quarterback record, and he ranks pretty highly among all NFL quarterbacks. Click the link to see the details.
It's going to be a subject of great debate, because some equate being in the Hall of Fame with winning Super Bowls (at least for quarterbacks), while others are more interested in the talent of the player. Romo, of course, never really came close to a championship. But otherwise, he has the numbers.
From an efficiency standpoint, Romo is a Hall of Famer. Whether or not his efficiency truly reflects his ability, his less-than-stellar postseason reputation, and his relatively short career are key questions that the Hall of Fame voters will have to answer. But his statistical case after adjusting for era is probably stronger than most people think. That's because while Romo only had four seasons with 4,000+ yards, he was extremely efficient for much of his career. From '06 to '14, Romo joined Rodgers, Manning, Brady, and Brees as the top 5 passers from that era.
One thing that has become clear is that the supposed rift between Romo and owner Jerry Jones was simply a figment of the imagination of a few rumor-oriented reporters. However, the chill on the formerly close relationship with Jason Garrett seems very real.
Romo revealed that nobody stood up for him more than Jones last year. Romo lost his starting job after injuring his back in Dallas' third preseason game. When he was ready to return, the Cowboys decided to ride the hot hand and stick with rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.
The Wednesday response was the latest example that things didn't end well between Romo and Jason Garrett. In nearly 90 minutes of talking publicly the last two days, Romo never mentioned the head coach's name.
"He's been great," Romo said of Jones on 105.3 The Fan's Ben and Skin Show [KRLD-FM]. "He's been there for me through my entire time. There wasn't anybody who stood up for me more last year. That meant as much as anything just the fact that he loved me and wanted good things for me."
Surprisingly, another relationship that seemed to survive Romo's departure from the team is the one he has with Dak Prescott, the man who took his job away.
"We shared text messages," Prescott said of Romo and his decision to become a CBS game analyst. "I thanked him for everything he's done for me. He said it's been a crazy couple of weeks for him. I'm hoping he is happy. I hope it is what he wanted. He has great knowledge of the game. He will give fans a birds-eye view of the game."