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Tony Romo's praise of Jerry Jones raises Jason Garrett questions

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What led Romo to broadcast booth? (1:45)

Adam Schefter breaks down the chain of events that led to Tony Romo retiring from football for a job with CBS. (1:45)


FRISCO, Texas -- As part of his new life as the lead football analyst for CBS, Tony Romo's words will be analyzed over and over. It won't be anything new for him, since that was also the case during his tenure as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Romo participated in two interviews, and many have seized on a comment he made about Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Wednesday.

"He's been great," Romo said. "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. Things happen, and that's what happens in life. But you remember the people that help you along the way and appreciate you and love on you and give you grace and try and do the things that you'd hopefully want to do for others. He exemplifies that stuff.

"I really wish people would get a chance to see into his heart and the way he just loves this football team, loves his family and just loves the people that have done right by him. There's not a more loyal guy that you'll ever meet. He's always been that way, and he's always going to be that way."

The "there wasn't anybody who stood up for me more last year" -- when Romo was injured during a preseason game and ultimately lost his starting job to Dak Prescott -- has been viewed as a dig at head coach Jason Garrett.

In his conference call announcing his hiring by CBS Sports and the interview with the "Ben and Skin Show," Romo never mentioned Garrett, but he was never asked directly about Garrett, his offensive coordinator/head coach from 2007-16.

There has been a fraying in the relationship between Romo and Garrett over the past seven months.

There was a time Garrett would go to basketball games with Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray. Garrett and Romo spent time at Duke listening to the gospel of Mike Krzyzewski. They met with Larry Brown at SMU. He went to a Bruce Springsteen concert to celebrate Garrett's birthday last year.

A few weeks ago Garrett sat with Witten, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin as the Dallas Mavericks played the Golden State Warriors. All anybody could think was, "Where is Romo?"

At the NFL scouting combine, Garrett said he had spoken to Romo just once after the Cowboys' season ended. They have had a couple of hellos at different postseason events, like the celebration of Jerry Jones' selection for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Houston the night before Super Bowl LI. But that's it.

Like Jones, Romo values loyalty.

Garrett is entering the third season of a five-year, $30 million contract he signed after the 2014 season -- a season that is generally considered Romo's best with 34 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions. Yes, Murray led the NFL in rushing with 1,845 yards, but Romo's play was sublime and he finished third in MVP voting.

Garrett was in a win-or-else situation at the time, as his contract expired after the season. After three straight 8-8 finishes from 2011-13, he needed to win or he would have been without a job. The Cowboys went 12-4 and Romo's level of play helped make Garrett one of the NFL's highest-paid coaches.

If you want to blame Romo for the 8-8 finishes, then fine, but where would the Cowboys have been without Romo?

Romo wasn't perfect, and he is not blameless in the relationship fraying. He didn't communicate as well as he could have with Garrett when he was rehabbing from the back injury he suffered last August. Garrett did not know about the heartfelt speech Romo made when it was clear he would be the backup, but the relationship started to turn before that.

Garrett did not address the possibility of Romo losing his job until well into the team's 11-game winning streak, which was at a point of no return because of the momentum the team had gained under Prescott.

Romo at least wanted the chance to compete for his job once he was healthy. While he disagreed with the decision, he was supportive of Prescott publicly and privately.

As part of his new job with CBS, Romo will have production meetings with coaches and players. The Cowboys will have at least two games on CBS with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers visiting AT&T Stadium, giving Romo and Garrett face time with each other.

Perhaps before then they will sit down and talk out their differences.