FRISCO, Texas -- A year ago Wednesday, the Dallas Cowboys cut Tony Romo.
Romo has had a pretty good 365 days since then, despite losing his job.
Not long after the Cowboys released Romo, he joined CBS to replace Phil Simms as its lead NFL analyst alongside Jim Nantz. It was viewed as a gutsy move because Romo had no television experience and would call Thursday night and Sunday games.
Last week, Romo was nominated for an Emmy in the category of outstanding sports personality/analyst.
The Cowboys’ decision to release Romo was not a surprise. Given his salary-cap cost and Dak Prescott’s record-setting rookie season, there was no way Romo could return to the team in 2017. Had the Cowboys cut Romo in March 2017, however, maybe he would not have gone straight to the television booth.
Had the move come in March, Romo could have kept playing. The most likely of destinations was Houston. But the Cowboys kept waiting to make a move, and CBS kept making an impression on Romo, who made the decision to move to a job in which he could grow old.
Romo is different than other TV analysts. He doesn’t only describe what just happened. He explains why it happened. He predicts plays every now and then and is able to correctly figure out end-of-game scenarios. He has had fun with it, too, grunting, giggling and even breaking down the change of direction skills of a cat that wandered onto the field.
It was like 2006 all over again, when Romo became the Cowboys’ quarterback. There was another turn of Romo mania. He wasn’t always perfect in what turned out to be Bill Parcells’ final season as coach, but Romo was must-see as he jump-started a team that made the playoffs. In the broadcast booth, he isn’t always perfect, either, with some believing he talks too much, but he is must-see.
In the aftermath of Romo’s release, there seemed to be an appreciation of what he did as the Cowboys’ starter for a decade. The Cowboys put No. 9 on all of their digital boards at The Star. The Omni hotel in downtown Dallas flashed the No. 9 on its façade. The Dallas Mavericks paid tribute to Romo by signing him to a contact. He went through a day-in-the-life with the Mavs, sitting on the bench in uniform for a game.
The Cowboys showed their appreciation for Romo when he returned to call his first game at AT&T Stadium, putting “Thank You 9” on top of one of the end zone suites. Before kickoff, a piece summarizing Romo’s career was shown on the digital board, with Jason Witten narrating.
Romo’s story should have been celebrated. He went from an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois to the starter of America’s Team. He became the franchise leader in passing yards and touchdown passes. But he won just two playoff games and never advanced to an NFC Championship Game. When you follow Hall of Fame and Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, that is the standard.
About the only thing that hasn't gone well for Romo since his release came a few weeks ago at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. Playing on a sponsor’s exemption he had long sought, Romo missed the cut in his PGA Tour debut, shooting a second-round 82.
To paraphrase Romo after the 2008 season-ending loss to the Philadelphia Eagles that kept the Cowboys out of the playoffs, if that is the worst thing that happened to him in the past 12 months, it has been a pretty good year.