The year 1980 was a great year. I know that because I graduated from High School and my hero, Danny White began his reign as QB of the Dallas Cowboys. Little did we know that the future of the Dallas Cowboys would be put upon the shoulders of a certain baby boy born on April 21st of that year in San Diego, California. His name, Antonio Ramiro "Tony" Romo.
Tony Romo is a third generation Mexican-American on his father’s side and Polish-German on his Mother’s side. As an adolescent Tony’s grandfather emigrated to San Antonio, Texas. He believes Tony’s success is an example of the possibilities that can happen living in the United States.
Tony was born in San Diego where his father was serving in the military, but his family returned to their home in Burlington, Wisconsin when he was 2 years old. He played quarterback his junior and senior years in High School where he made the All Racine County football team.
Tony Romo attended college at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois majoring in business. In 1999, his first year of collegiate football he only played in three games but his stats were good and he was red shirted as a true freshman. His sophomore year is when he kicked it into gear and ranked second in Division 1-AA in passing efficiency.
On December 19, 2002 Tony Romo was the first player in Eastern Illinois and Ohio Valley Conference history to win the Walter Payton Award given annually to the nation’s top player. Tony finished his career holding school and conference records with 85 touchdown passes and 8,212 passing yards. Tony’s senior year he racked up 3,149 total yards in offense and ranked third in conference history. Along with the Walter Payton Award he earned consensus All America honors. He was also selected All Ohio Valley Conference and was named OVC player of the Year for the third straight year.
To begin his career in the NFL Tony attended the 2003 NFL Scouting Combine hoping to impress scouts. Despite intriguing some he went undrafted during the 2003 draft. However, Sean Payton, the Cowboys assistant head coach/QB coach at the time, had assured Tony that the Cowboys were interested and shortly after was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Entering the 2003 training camp he was third on the Cowboys’ depth chart behind Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson. In 2004, the Cowboys released Hutchinson and signed veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde and traded a 3rd round draft pick to the Houston Texans for quarterback Drew Henson. Tony faced being cut from the roster until Quincy Carter was released because of allegations of substance abuse. After Vinny’s Testaverde’s time in Dallas ended in 2005, the Cowboys signed another veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe, making him the 8th starting quarterback of the Cowboys since 2000. All along the real deal was standing on the sidelines carrying his clipboard, with his cap on backwards, smiling and learning everything he could, waiting for his chance.
In 2005 and 2006 pre-season Tony Romo looked pretty good, a lot of fans were wondering why weren’t we giving him a chance to play. Apparently Sean Payton was thinking the same thing because he offered a third round draft pick for Tony, but Jerry Jones refused. Thank you Jerry!
Finally to a happy roaring Cowboy crowd, Tony Romo started his legacy by replacing Drew Bledsoe for the start of the second half during a Monday Night Football game on October 23, 2006. Two days later Bill Parcells announced that Tony Romo would be the starting quarterback for their next game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday Night Football. Tony led the Cowboys to a win in his first game as a starter, 35-14 and was Sunday Night Football’s "Rock Star of the Game". But his first pass and touchdown came three weeks before playing against the Texans when his first NFL pass resulted in a 33 yard completion to Sam Hurd and in the same game he threw his first touchdown pass to guess who, that’s right Mr. Terrell Owens.
Tony had played in just eight games as a starter when it was announced that Tony would be attending the 2007 Pro Bowl.
With success comes the talk of contracts, big contracts. Jerry Jones opted to let the unproven quarterback play unsigned to begin his first year in charge, just to make sure he was worth a huge commitment. Tony answered quickly becoming the NFC’s offensive player of the month in September and Dallas finished October as the No. 1 offense in the conference. Jerry Jones didn’t wait until the offseason to sign his quarterback of the future to a six-year $67.5 million contract extension, $30 million of which is guaranteed. The deal includes an $11.5 million signing bonus. Tony replied, "I’m going to be with the Cowboys the rest of my career. I love it! It is a great feeling you have when the organization and the people stand behind you and you can be the quarterback for a long, long time. It makes you feel good as a person and a player."
Tony has stepped into the role of quarterback of "America’s Team" very nicely. He has already dated country star Carrie Underwood, been linked in the tabloids with Britney Spears, and is currently dating Jessica Simpson. "It comes with the territory, I guess," Tony replied when asked about the huge interest in his love life.
With Tony as our quarterback Cowboy fans know we have the leadership and talent to win another Super Bowl. That is what Tony’s legacy will depend on. To be a Hall of Fame Quarterback in the NFL and especially of the Dallas Cowboys, a Super Bowl ring must be worn.
One of the things that make fans and players like Tony is his personality, so I am going to let Tony end this article with one of his famous quotes. "You try to work hard and get better each week. I play the game with passion. I enjoy the game. It’s a lot of fun when I’m out there. That’s the way I play. For some reason, people like that."