Bill Belichick wasn’t the only previously immortal football character who lost his luster Sunday night during the Cowboys’ thrilling overtime win over the Patriots.
Tony Romo did as well.
For the last three seasons, Romo was widely lauded as the best color analyst in pro sports, including by this humble blogger. He was on top of the action and more cognizant of game situations than most coaches. His penchant for predicting plays even earned him a monicker: “Romostradamus.”
But those days are gone. The Tony Romo who showed up to Foxborough Sunday was loud, confused and bordering on offensive. His gabfest with Jim Nantz following a segment about cancer patients enjoying a spa day at Gillette Stadium was downright cringeworthy.
Does anybody know what these two golf buddies were getting at?
“I’d like to enjoy a day of manicures, yoga, candle lighting. Maybe a little relax …,” Romo said before abruptly cutting himself for the first time.
Then his awkward ribbing of Nantz continued.
“You’re big into candle-making. Don’t lie!,” Romo shouted. “That’s your favorite thing on the side. Tell the people.”
Nantz countered with a line about how Romo enjoys pedicures (how girly)! The ex-quarterback tried to respond with another retort, but seemed to combust mid-sentence — or stop himself from saying something career-ending. One of the two.
“I don’t … feed … my … dogs … what is it? Pedi? Pediatric kids?,” Romo said.
His verbal panting while CBS showed video of Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft embracing before the game was just as uncomfortable.
“They’re like, ‘Hey ... oh you’re here! Let’s go! Should we sit together? Yes. Get in there. Let the big guy get his hands on ya,’” Romo said. “That’s fantastic.”
Those weren’t the only times Romo didn’t make any sense at all. His breakdown of the first half consisted of the following: “I have not seen a game like this where it’s just shocking thing after shocking thing over and over — with high-level play,” he said. “Everything I’m like, ‘Woah! They do that? No. That can’t happen, can it?’
Well, it did. Dallas’ epic 35-29 win included everything: epic pass plays; late-game lead changes; coaching blunders; a pick-six. Unfortunately, Romo wasn’t very helpful in those critical spots. He was lost during the Cowboys’ final drive of regulation, failing to articulate an unsportsmanlike conduct call and wrongly suggesting Mike McCarthy was right to call timeout before Greg Zuerlein’s game-tying kick with 20 seconds left.
After realizing it was 4th-and-1, Romo reversed course.
The early fawning over Romo was probably more reflective on the sorry state of NFL broadcasts than his ability to analyze games. He enjoyed the good fortune of replacing Phil Simms, who was dreadful.
But at this point, Romo is more about presentation than substance. He’s also fallen into the trap of repeating his talking points endlessly. It seemed like Romo told viewers dozens of times the Cowboys are Super Bowl contenders — even as McCarthy bungled his late-game timeouts and clock management.
Oh, and don’t forget about Kellen Moore. If he’s not a head coach by next season, then something is wrong.
In a way, the brilliance of the ManningCast has exposed Romo. Peyton Manning knows everything about quarterback play and is funny as hell. By comparison, Romo seems boorish.
Now, it’s probably wrong to judge Romo on just one game. Since the Patriots are a losing team, we’ve been stuck with CBS’ “D-team” this season, and it’s probably only going to get worse.
Who’s ready for James Lofton to call next week’s thriller against the Jets?
On second thought, that might not be much of a downgrade. Romo is not a revolutionary analyst. He just plays one on TV.