Tony Romo has decided to hang up the cleats.
Although at least one playoff-caliber NFL team showed interest in acquiring him, the four-time Pro Bowler decided to retire on Tuesday and was released from the Dallas Cowboys.
Romo will now pursue a broadcasting career with CBS Sports and will replace Phil Simms as an analyst.
By releasing Romo, the Cowboys are relinquishing their rights to their legendary signal caller by not putting him on the retired/reserved list.
“We wish Tony and his family nothing but the best,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. “As an organization, we did what he asked us to do in terms of his release, and we wanted to do what was ultimately in his best interest and in the best interest of his family.
“Tony has been a wonderful representative of the Cowboys organization for 14 years, and he left everything he had on the field,” Jones continued. “He will leave us with many great memories and a legacy of being, truly, one of the greatest players in Cowboys history. We are thrilled for him and his family that he will be able to continue working as a professional in the game he so dearly loves.”
Romo’s decision comes at a scattered time in his career both emotionally and health-wise. Over the past two seasons, Romo has only appeared in five games due to a twice-broken collarbone and a broken back. After both of these brutal injuries, he managed to fight his way back on to the field to make at least one appearance on the field. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that injury concerns – especially those pertaining to his back – played a large role in Romo’s decision to call it quits.
Regardless of his choice to walk away, Dak Prescott, the 2016 Rookie of the Year, had firmly assumed Romo’s old starting role.
During a press conference in November, Romo basically surrendered his job to Prescott, suggesting he could continue his career as a starting quarterback in a different uniform in 2017. Romo also expressed his desire to play football at a high level the following season.
“If you think for a second that I don’t want to be out there, than you’ve probably never felt the ecstasy of competing and winning,” Romo said. “That hasn’t left me. In fact, it may burn more now than ever. It’s not always easy to watch and I think anyone who has been in this position understands that.”
In the end, Romo’s health concerns ultimately trumped his desire to continue leading a team to victory. Being a well spoken individual, Romo will be sure to thrive in his new job as a player analyst.
The only downside of his decision to retire is fans will no longer have the opportunity to witness his “last ride” tour even though Jane Slater of NFL Network reported Tuesday morning that Romo hasn’t closed the door on returning to Dallas if they desperately needed him. An undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois, Romo caught the attention of former Cowboys assistant and current Saints head coach Sean Payton. In his first two seasons in the NFL, Romo served as a backup to high-upside prospects such as Drew Henson and high-profile veterans such as Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe.
Under Bill Parcells, Romo finally got his chance to shine in 2006. He completed 66 percent of his passes for 270 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in his first career start as the Cowboys would go on to thump the Carolina Panthers by a score of 35-14. He wound up taking Dallas to the playoffs in that season.
While Romo’s critics will be quick to bring up the Cowboys’ lack of ultimate success during the Romo era – his teams only won two playoff games in six appearances from 2006 to 2014 – they also have failed to see the big picture. Like Tom Brady, who was drafted very low by the New England Patriots, Romo was a sensational success story of a player who wasn’t supposed to make much of an impact – if any – in the league. In a time where NCAA scouting wasn’t strong, Romo fought his way through the system and eventually established himself as premier player. His rare combination of being a rambling playmaker and precise passer made him a perfect fit for Jones’ offensive schemes. Romo was undoubtedly one of the most important pieces to the franchise during his time in the league.
He was also one of Dallas’ toughest players to ever suit up. Over the course of his career, Romo played through broken fingers and ribs, a broken back, and even a punctured lung. He rushed his recovery from gruesome injuries to find his way back on the field, often finishing games with an apparent hobble or hunch in his stature.
Romo wraps up his career as the Cowboys’ franchise leader in passing yards (34,183), touchdowns (248), and game-winning drives – surpassing legendary Hall of Famers Rodger Stabauch by seven and Troy Aikman by nine.
This offseason, Jones wanted to see if he could generate a trade for Romo, telling the other 31 teams that they could try to negotiate with the quarterback at their own free will. But Jones couldn’t execute a trade and Romo decided retirement was his best option.
This wasn’t a clean ending for Romo, as he still had a burning will to play despite gracefully handing over his job to Prescott. He began to distance himself from pro-Prescott teammates and coaches in this period of time, but had broadcasting and retirement on his mind the whole time as well.
The aftershock of this decision could be heavily felt for weeks, as the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos would’ve been great options for Romo to potentially win a ring before he stepped away.
Instead, Houston and Denver will now have to play with the cards they are dealt, having to either develop the current quarterbacks on their rosters or turn to this year’s draft.
However, neither option will be able to match the immediate star power Romo’s arrival. As a golden age of quality quarterbacking comes to an inevitable end, Romo now follows Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, and Peyton Manning out the door. He will now have a chance to make an impact on the league from a television booth.