Romo on Romo

The Cowboys quarterback on coming back even stronger from a second back surgery, getting the opportunity to finally play behind a reliable offensive line, and what the future holds for 2014 and beyond

By
Robert Klemko
· More from Robert·
Tony Romo (John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)
Tony Romo (John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

OXNARD, Calif. — After a recent lively intrasquad scrimmage in which Tony Romo dazzled, the 34-year-old quarterback sat down with The MMQB to talk about the future. His eyes lit up at the mention of Cowboys first-round rookie guard Zack Martin, who just a day earlier had engaged in even livelier one-on-one battles with defensive tackle Henry Melton, a free-agent acquisition this offseason.

“He stopped him a couple times,” Romo says of Martin, “but did you see that spin move by Melton?! That was special.” How did Romo see those one-on-ones while he was sitting out of practice? “We don’t normally watch those drills,” he adds, “but sometimes you end up seeing it on film.”

Romo, who is still making his way back from back surgery to repair a herniated disk in December, is expected to see his first preseason action against the Ravens this weekend. Even though he hasn’t been playing full-time for all of training camp, nothing has gone unnoticed—not even linemen battling it out in the early days of August. Here, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback shares his thoughts on the upcoming season and beyond.

On rehabbing his now twice surgically-repaired back…

I spend anywhere from two hours a day to four hours a day on it. If you want to play sports after back surgery you have to make that routine a part of it. You can still come back and be the same guy you were; you just have to work at it. The exercises are stuff you should be doing when you’re young, but you just don’t know it. They focus on your glutes, your abs, your hamstrings. There are little tedious things you can do to strengthen those areas which make you use your back less. More and more, strength coaches are incorporating that stuff.

On his offensive line, and specifically, Zack Martin…

It’s been a while since we’ve had a line this good. These guys are smart, dedicated, hard-working and they’re good. So I think we have a great chance to do some things we haven’t been able to do in years past. It’s going to be fun watching them play together this year. Zack is not your regular rookie who’s coming in wide-eyed and not understanding. He feels like a fourth-year guy who knows the system. I’m shocked whenever he doesn’t do something right, schematically. You can do a lot of different things in front of him right before the snap and he still picks it up quick. We’re lucky to have him.

romo-in-line-800-400 

On whether he feels the need to compensate for a defense that ranked among the league’s worst last season, especially after losing All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee to an ACL tear this summer…

You have to trust your defense. If you don’t, you’re already setting yourself up for a long season. So I believe in those guys. I believe they can be much improved from last season. My job is to score more points than the other team. Obviously, that’s a lot easier to do when your defense is playing great. I’ve experienced that one or two years when we had a top 10 defense. In those years you can rely on them a little bit. In other years you can’t. You can’t just rely on a perfect situation as a quarterback or a player. You’ve got to go create that. Part of that is working your tail off as a unit to handle whatever situation arises. We’re taking steps toward that.

On Dez Bryant’s progress…

I think its just a consistency thing. He’s always been really, really good. It’s just that every day he’s bringing it. He’s always been a hard worker, but sometimes you can relax here or there, and he’s just not doing that right now. Its really setting him apart.

On his dream for his sons, and whether they’ll be allowed to play football (Romo and wife, Candice, had their second child in March)…

For our kids, more than anything, we just want them to find something they enjoy and attack it and be passionate about it. If you want to be a doctor, by all means. If you want to play football, by all means. It’s just about them working hard, being good people and then finding something they really have a passion for and going out and doing it.

On financial literacy and career longevity…

I do remember coming to the league, and I feel like only 5% of guys have ever heard of a 401k at that point. The league has done a real good job of giving guys avenues before they go broke. Some take advantage; others don’t. You can’t really show guys what life will be like when football’s over. I believe it’s a harsh reality and a rude awakening. You spend your whole life working, committing and trying to become a player and play well. Most players do not have a backup option, and that’s part of what makes them great; that sense of desperation. That’s what makes it difficult when time runs out. You need a structure set up just to be happy and comfortable and have another source of joy in the morning. There’s the big picture, with your faith and your family. But it’s hard because the game gives you this natural high that’s hard to duplicate in real life. How do you match it?

You have to ask yourself, What are you going to wake up for?

The other part is, you have to understand that this four or five years is going to bring you the money you’ll have for the rest of your life. And you have to consider that it’s not all about you. But when you’re young it’s all about you, and you do things to feel great and comfortable right now. As you get more aware and the league continues to share the stories, guys will do a better job. But I don’t think anybody’s really prepared for it to end. You have to try to replace that great feeling that you had. It will never be that same feeling as football, but it doesn’t have to be.

On how his current health struggles relate…

You want to work but you have to take it easy. And it makes you think, When football is taken from me, how am I going to react? That’s a very difficult thing, because football is all we know. That was one of the hardest things for me, watching practice, because I have to rest my back. But I love that feeling that I need to be out there. That’s how I’m going to feel until I’m done. When it’s over, you’re not going to have 70,000 people screaming and all that adrenaline, but I believe you can replace some of that feeling with other things.

On when he’ll retire…

I assume it will be five years, but you just kind of go until you’re done. Life happens. It’s the same as when you play. At first you’re just trying to get better and make the football team and then, bam, you’re a starter, then you’re playing well. Life just happens. And that’s how it ends. You’re going and going and then, bam.

mmqb-end-slug-square

More from The MMQB
23 comments
seamillguesthouse
seamillguesthouse

The best thing that can happen to the Cowboys is Romo retiring .

The Cowboys really need to move on.

It seems that they no longer focus on winning it all.But just making the playoffs will be good enough.

They really suck

LouCavuoto
LouCavuoto

Romo does make mistakes but its usually due to the situations he's put in . These years with him at Qb are being wasted because of their awful defense and coaching . The job as a coach is to keep your players from being in those bad situations, instead in Dallas its Romo helping Garrett keep his job . The coaching staff stinks and so does the front office . As a life long cowboys fan , they will never win another superbowl as long as Jerry owns the team . 

pirate
pirate

What is the matter with your web people? The story came up, but a third of it is covered by the "Follow the MMQB" thing that I cannot make go away. It means I'm not going to bother reading the story – since I can't see a big chunk of it – and I'm going to start making ESPN and NFL.com my go-to football sites. This redesign just totally sucks, and this is the end.

DeaconFrost
DeaconFrost

Romo is hardly one of the best in the business, unless you are only talking about single game performances.  Cowboys fans remember those games, like the ones against Denver, but seem to always forget about the games he loses with his timely (or untimely) turnovers.  However, to be fair, I don't put all of that blame on his shoulders.  He has to deal with a meddling owner and mediocre teams.


I think we can all agree that Dallas shouldn't be called America's Team anymore.

howdythurr
howdythurr

As a Cowboy fan, I expect another 8-8 season if we are lucky

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

What every Cowboy fan (and others) wants to know...what makes Romo tick. lol 

kirksmallwood
kirksmallwood

Watch Romo every game and you will appreciate that he is one of the best in the business.  Give him a mediocre defense every year and he is playoff bound every time.  The game against Denver last year is a great example of his career:  500 yards, 5TD and 48 points and they lose.  They wouldn't even win 2 games a year without him.  

seamillguesthouse
seamillguesthouse

Only because Romo plays for the Cowboys is he news.

Put him on the Bills or Jags ...hes a nobody

theMMQB
theMMQB moderator

@pirate we haven't redesigned anything. what platform are you using—desktop, tablet, phone? 


pirate
pirate

@DeaconFrost  Dallas never should have been called America's Team. I used to like the Cowboys back in the days of Dandy Don Meredith. Then they started calling themselves America's Team in the '70s and the sheer arrogance ticked me off.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@howdythurr I believe this is the season where their 8 & 8 records of the past three yrs ends...


7 wins will be a reach for them.  Most likely 5 or 6 wins this yr.


Their D has been bad recently and it will be even worse this season.  


Bad for yrs and then gets worse and that is going to take a toll on the teams record finally.  They did well honestly to still win 8 games each of the last few seasons with that defense.


BY
BY

@kirksmallwood I'm no Cowboy fan but I agree with you that Romo is one of the best. He's screwed with an idiot owner.

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

@kirksmallwood 5 of the 10 worst defenses in the league made the playoffs last year. And the defense was decent in 2011 and as always they were 8-8. The problem is they put up gaudy numbers against bad teams and always find a way to lose against good teams. The broncos game was typical Romo era cowboys.You conveniently left out the horrible interception Romo threw. Romo and the cowboys are fool's gold. The stage got too big and he choked. If it was not him it would have been someone else because they all do it but Romo is the leader of the biggest chokers in sports. Should have traded him before last season. They would be better rebuilding and Romo would be better playng without the pressure of being the Dallas Cowboys QB.

Tommy K
Tommy K

@kirksmallwood well said. not a Cowboys fan here, but always been a fan of Romo and how he plays. that denver game was a brutal loss for him, but I was sure glad to have him starting for my FF team that day :) 

Eaglebrdy
Eaglebrdy

@seamillguesthouse I would take a Bills or Jags QB anytime, Romo needs to leave Dallas. There is too much movement on the O-line, there is check this and check that. Check the D before hiking the ball. All that creates confusion and before you know it, flags fly for delay of game. Hike the football Romo and just play, stop worrying about where everybody is.. stop worrying about the D. Play your game and stop thinking about your game, that's what practice is for.

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

@seamillguesthouse Even being the worst QB on the worst team in the NFL is more of an accomplishment than posting anonymously on comment sections.  Might want to reassess your definition of "a nobody". 

pirate
pirate

@theMMQB @pirate What do you mean no redesign? The whole vaunted SI redesign with the tiles and all the bells and whistles a few months ago. Now when I hit the back button after reading a four-graf story I have to do it two or three times because the site keeps updating. It's not MMQB specifically, it's the whole SI, and it sucks. I figure by the second week of the NFL season I will be going to SI once a week, to read Peter King, and will do the rest of my football obsessing on NFL.com.

armagecko
armagecko

@pirate Bob Ryan of NFL films created the "America's Team" moniker. The Cowboys had nothing to do with it. At the time, Tom Landry hated it. So, hate 'em if you must, but don't blame them.

kirksmallwood
kirksmallwood

@BushidoBrownsRevenge @kirksmallwood Bushido, the point is that Romo has to be PERFECT for them to win, unlike the other top QBs.  He puts up 48 points and it's his fault they lose because of one bad pass?  I didn't "conveniently" leave it out, because it isn't even worth mentioning.  If you put up 48 points, you win 99% of all games.  There are plenty of actual facts, if you care:  


http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000217055/article/tony-romo-haters-take-heed-dallas-cowboys-qb-is-underrated


http://www.advancedfootballanalytics.com/2013/10/the-truth-about-tony-romo.html


armagecko
armagecko

@pirate @theMMQB I agree. The re-design sucks. And I'm no troglodyte, either. You've got a lot of colorful pictures but fewer stories and the ones that are there are buried and hard to find. This ain't Life magazine, Mr. Mod. I could do with fewer fancy (but useless) pics and better, more accessible content. 

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

@kirksmallwood @BushidoBrownsRevenge And if you throw horrendous interceptions in the 4th quater of close games you  lose 99% of the time. Their are facts like the cowboys being 5-19 vs teams with .500 or  better records out their as well. Romo is the proof that analytics dont always show the full story because his numbers are great but he always finds a way to lose big games against good teams. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady had the best records in the league a few seasons ago with worst defenses in the league. The defense was not the reason Romo threw that terrible interception against Denver or the one against Green Bay or the Play-in game against Washington. Your Boy is fool gold face it.  If you cant play well against the average to above average teams you will be 8-8 every year.

Newsletter