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The Baer Necessities: Romo's mental toughness insufficient for NFL QB

Jan. 21, 2010

McClatchy News
Tony Romo mishandles the snap as kicker Martin Gramatica prepares to kick the game-winning field goal

against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wildcard playoff game on Jan. 6, 2007. Romo is 1-2 in playoff


By Justin Baer
Sports editor

Replacing the aged Drew Bledsoe in 2006, Tony Romo appeared to be destined as the next legendary Cowboys quarterback.

Romo had the energy to jump-start a desolate Cowboys franchise, the work ethic to gain his teammates' support and the smile and charisma to woo the ladies.

The undrafted, feel-good story won five of his first six starts, including knocking off the then-unbeaten Indianapolis Colts. The former Eastern Illinois University standout finished the season with 2,903 yards, to go along with 19 touchdowns and a passer rating of 95.1. Garnering a Pro Bowl selection, Romo had Dallas fans convinced Jerry Jones had discovered a diamond in the rough.

More importantly, Romo guided the Cowboys to their first playoff appearance in three years, as the team stormed to Seattle in hopes of upending the NFC West champion Seahawks.

Down 21-20 in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, Romo engineered the Cowboys to what should have been a game-winning drive. Placed at the 2-yard line, the Cowboys sent Martin Gramatica out to capture Dallas' first playoff victory since 1996.

On the attempt, Romo botched the hold, and with that, the Cowboys' season came to a disparaging conclusion.

Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, the series of events displayed on Jan. 6, 2007, were only a glimpse of the career of Tony Romo.

After witnessing the 34-3 walloping the Cowboys received by the Minnesota Vikings, it's unequivocal that Romo is not the solution at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

Granted, Romo spent most of his Sunday afternoon fleeing from defensive linemen, but the sixth-year quarterback still made amateur mistakes on a paramount level.

Romo's three fumbles (two lost) and one interception put a damper to the Cowboys' morale, and while Brett Favre toyed with Dallas's defense, Romo didn't put the Cowboys in position to make it a competitive game.

While Romo has the tangibles to make a decent NFL starter, he will never lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl for the same reason Miami Dolphins' kicker Ray Finkle collapsed in the Jim Carrey movie "Ace Ventura." Romo's mental toughness is inadequate for what is required by an NFL quarterback to lead an NFL team to the most cherished game in all of sports.

Romo has posted impressive regular season wins throughout his career, but after seeing his brief stints in playoff action, I get the impression Romo will never don a Super Bowl ring (at least because of his action.)

Critics denounced Peyton Manning for his early career playoff failures, but Manning was also a part of a Colts team that had an abominable defense for the early portion of his tenure.

So while I applaud Romo for not being a sheer humiliation under center like the other quarterbacks that attempted to fill the shoes of Troy Aikman, No. 9 isn't the franchise quarterback many hyped him to be.

Like what the quarterback did to country music star Carrie Underwood, it's time for Jones to dump Romo. Hopefully for the Cowboys, Jones won't downgrade like Romo did.

Justin Baer is a marketing and business journalism major from Midlothian and the sports editor for the Lariat.