Tony Romo's heritage always close by

IRVING, Texas -- Ramiro and Joan Romo stood outside Candlestick Park in San Francisco last week waiting for their son, Tony, to make his way to the team bus.

The handshake and hug were light, considering their son had suffered a fractured a rib in the first quarter yet somehow returned to lead the Dallas Cowboys' stirring comeback victory over the 49ers in overtime.

"They understand it's a physical game and things like that happen, but you never want to see your child hurt," Tony said. "They were there just for support. It was a great moment because we won the football game and they were there."

That the Romos made the trip from Burlington, Wis., was no surprise. They attend the majority of their son's games, home or away.

It's what they did when Tony had a game at Burlington High School. It's what they did when he attended Eastern Illinois. It's what they do now that he is with the Cowboys.

It could be a rec league basketball game at a local church in the offseason or a sectional qualifying golf tournament outside Houston ... they would be there.

The Romos are a tight family. If training camp is in San Antonio, Romo's grandparents, Ramiro Sr. and Felicita, will attend a couple of practices. Ramiro Sr. was born in Múzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico, and moved to the U.S. when he was a teenager before settling in Racine, Wis., where he met his wife.

"It's pretty neat how they grew up, how they came into this country and how they instilled a lot of our family values," Ramiro said.

Before and after every game, Felicita Romo will leave a voicemail for her grandson. The father and son will talk or exchange text messages after games, but not so much to discuss the whys and hows of a particular game.

"It's great to have that support and that they're there to care for you," Tony said. "I'm lucky enough to have two parents that were there when I was growing up. Not everybody has that. I'm blessed to have two parents like I do."

The blue van is long gone now, but the Romos put thousands of miles on it when Tony was in college.

"Many times Joan and I would get out of work on a Friday night and drive all over tarnation to and back from games," said Ramiro, rattling off towns like Paducah, Ky., Cookeville, Tenn., and home games in Charleston, Ill.

Never did they believe their son would become a Pro Bowl quarterback for the Cowboys, but that has made the ride so enjoyable. Along the way, however, there have been some moments where those sitting around the Romos will let expletives fly after a bad play.

Ramiro remembers one preseason game at Texas Stadium in particular before his son became the starter.

"A gentleman close to us almost wore a glass of Pepsi," he laughed. "But we've learned it's better just to keep our mouths shut."

The positives have outweighed the negatives.

The Romos have lost count how many times they have seen their son's jersey on a little boy or girl on trips all through the U.S. or to Mexico.

"We get a kick out of it every time," Ramiro said. "It just goes to show the fans appreciate what he does on the football field."

Tony is aware of it, too.

"The Cowboys have such a strong Hispanic fan base, you can't help but see the number of fans that support us at training camp and through the year," Tony said. "It's awesome to be part of a team that gets that support, and I just really appreciate the support they give us."

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.