Full Name: Antonio Ramiro Romo
Born: April 21, 1980 (age 43) in San Diego, California
NFL Career: 2004-2016, Dallas Cowboys
Jersey Number: #9
Career Stats: 34,183 passing yards, 248 passing TDs
Awards & Honors: 4x Pro Bowl, All-Pro (2014), Ed Block Courage Award (2016)
As a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, few players have captured my imagination over the years quite like Tony Romo. The undrafted free agent who emerged from obscurity to become a franchise quarterback. The swashbuckling gunslinger who could improvise Houdini-like escapes. The polarizing player who posted gaudy stats but always fell short of a Super Bowl. Romo‘s 14-year journey with the Cowboys was a rollercoaster ride, establishing him as one of the most fascinating figures in team history.
Early Life & College Career
Long before he was dodging sacks and winning games for America‘s Team, Tony grew up far from the bright lights of Dallas in the small town of Burlington, Wisconsin. The son of Ramiro and Joan Romo, Tony was a multi-sport athlete at local Burlington High School, also playing golf, tennis and basketball. But his stellar football skills landed Tony a scholarship at Eastern Illinois University, a Division I-AA school where Romo shattered school and conference passing records. He won the prestigious Walter Payton Award in 2002 as the top player in D-IAA, foreshadowing his NFL success.
The Undrafted Rookie Making the Cowboys Roster
Despite his college success, Romo went undrafted in the 2003 NFL Draft. However, the Eastern Illinois alum caught his big break that summer when he was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. He made a strong impression during training camp and preseason, beating out veterans like Clint Stoerner to secure a roster spot behind starters Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson. Romo spent his first couple NFL seasons holding clipboards, waiting patiently for his opportunity.
Rapid Rise to Stardom
Romo finally got his chance to start midway through the 2006 season. After Dallas failed to reach the playoffs the previous year, Romo energized the franchise, going 6-4 in his first 10 starts and propelling the Cowboys to the playoffs. His incredible scramble and touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton to beat the Panthers will always be remembered as Romo‘s arrival on the NFL stage.
The Romo era was officially underway in Dallas as he took over the starting job for good in 2007. Some highlights from his amazing years as the Cowboys QB:
- Made 4 Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro twice
- Set club records with 34,183 passing yards and 248 TDs
- Led the NFL with a 113.2 passer rating in 2014
- Guided Dallas to 8 playoff appearances but won just 2 postseason games
Romo‘s stats and regular season success made him one of the NFL‘s elite QBs. His improvisational style and late-game magic electrified Cowboys fans, creating many memorable moments over the years.
As great as Romo was in the regular season, his playoff shortcomings left his legacy incomplete. Heart-wrenching losses like the botched snap in Seattle and late interception against the Giants unfairly labeled Romo as a choke artist. Injuries were also an unfortunate theme in Romo‘s career, robbing him of opportunities in his later seasons.
Although he never advanced past the divisional round, Romo always left it all on the field. His 1-6 playoff record will never tell the full story of how close he came to postseason glory. The what-ifs remain one of the great frustrations of Romo‘s time in Dallas.
While Romo was capable of superhuman feats on the field, he was not immune to injury and age. A broken collarbone sidelined him for 12 games in 2015, after which he conceded the starting job to rookie Dak Prescott in 2016. Romo attempted an ill-fated comeback that year but ultimately retired prior to 2017, his body too battered to continue.
But the setbacks never dampened Romo‘s spirit or love for the game. He won the Ed Block Courage Award in 2016, a testament to the resilience he displayed battling through pain. Although his career ended sooner than hoped, Romo cemented his legacy as one of the greatest Cowboys of all.
Life After Football
It did not take long for Romo to embark on an exciting new chapter in broadcasting. Hired by CBS in 2017, he immediately wowed audiences with his ability to predict plays pre-snap. His enthusiastic commentary and rapport with Jim Nantz earned rave reviews.
Three seasons in, Romo has already established himself as one of the top NFL color commentators. Football fans are grateful that his infectious passion for the game continues in the broadcast booth. And Romo remains a beloved figure in Dallas, where his jersey No. 9 will undoubtedly be retired one day.
A Cowboy Forever
Tony Romo‘s incredible football journey was filled with record-shattering stats, painful setbacks, unforgettable moments, and lasting memories. Through it all, No. 9 maintained a magnetic charisma and unrelenting spirit that captured the hearts of Cowboys fans. Although he never reached the NFL mountaintop, Romo‘s legacy as one of Dallas‘ greatest quarterbacks is set in stone.