Tony Romo Coming to Denver — but Only on TV

Tony Romo during a November 2016 press conference.
Tony Romo during a November 2016 press conference. NFL via YouTube
Update: ESPN is reporting that longtime Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, whom the Denver Broncos have been rumored to covet for months, has decided to retire from football after thirteen years in the NFL in order to pursue a broadcasting career.

"Romo has received interest from CBS, Fox and NBC, and can choose to be a color commentator where he wants. That move could come as early as Tuesday, sources said," write ESPN's Todd Archer and Adam Schefter. "But the decision to leave football already has been made. His run as the Cowboys' quarterback — and an NFL player — officially ends Tuesday."

For a lot of Denver fans, Romo's conclusion will come as a relief. Since at least last November, as noted in our previous coverage on view below, hot-take commentators have portrayed Romo as a Peyton Manning-like savior capable of getting the Men of Orange back to the Super Bowl. Problem is, the guy has played only intermittently over the past two seasons as the result of a series of injuries, including debilitating back problems and a collarbone that a stiff breeze could crack.

As such, devoting millions to Romo would probably have been money wasted in a futile attempt to repeat the Peyton past. Even if current QBs Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch don't appear to be Hall of Famers in training, they're likely to remain ambulatory — whereas Romo might have needed an ambulance.

That's why we're happy Romo will only be seen in Denver when we switch on our TVs. Continue for our earlier report.

ESPN's Mike & Mike: Tony Romo Should Become Broncos' Next Peyton Manning

In 2012, the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning, a brilliant quarterback who was essentially abandoned by his old squad, the Indianapolis Colts, after he underwent neck surgery. The result was an outstanding record of success, two Super Bowl appearances and one championship.

Is history about to repeat itself? Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, an undeniably outstanding talent, has found himself in Manning's position after a major injury of his own. And this morning, ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, stars of the popular Mike & Mike program, argued that the Broncos should sign him up in a re-do of the Peyton formula.

But repeating this feat could be even more difficult this time around.

The topic arose thanks to comments made by Romo during a press conference yesterday — his first since he suffered a compression-fracture injury to his back during this year's preseason. He's now been medically cleared to play, but rookie Dak Prescott, who was pressed into service after Romo went down, has led the Cowboys to an NFL-best 8-1 record, and every expert with a working brain agrees that pulling the newcomer at this point would be categorically insane.

Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic during their ESPN2 broadcast following Romo's November 2016 press conference. - ESPN VIA YOUTUBE
Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic during their ESPN2 broadcast following Romo's November 2016 press conference.
ESPN via YouTube
Romo admitted as much during his media chat.

"We all know something magical is happening to our team," he said. "I'm not going to allow this situation to negatively affect Dak or this football team by becoming a constant distraction. I think Dak knows that I have his back. And I think I know that he has mine. Ultimately, it's about the team. It's what we've preached our entire lives."

If Prescott is the Cowboys' QB of the future, however, Romo is unlikely to stay with the team. He's 36 years old, and while he's in his career's final stage, he still has the talent to start and excel — and perhaps get his hands on that elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Where should he go? Greenberg, the world's biggest New York Jets fan, rejected the idea of Romo taking the helm of that beleaguered franchise, which isn't ready to compete at the highest level. Likewise, he didn't think it made sense for Romo to jump to terrible teams such as the Cleveland Browns or the Chicago Bears and be stuck on a loser until retirement.

Peyton Manning, with Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and executive John Elway, during the press conference announcing his signing with the Broncos in 2012. - PHOTO BY BRANDON MARSHALL
Peyton Manning, with Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and executive John Elway, during the press conference announcing his signing with the Broncos in 2012.
Photo by Brandon Marshall
In his view, then, the perfect fit for Romo is the Broncos, a team that has everything it needs to make another Super Bowl run with the exception of a first-rate signal-caller.

Greenberg roots for current Broncos QB Trevor Siemian, since both of them went to Northwestern — but he sees Romo as a Manning-like upgrade that could immediately put Denver back on top again. And Golic robustly seconded that emotion.

What's the matter with this rosy scenario? Romo's injury history. Manning's neck problem was extremely serious and could easily have reduced him to a shadow of his former greatness; the Broncos took a huge risk in bringing him aboard, and it paid off. But Peyton had otherwise proven to be quite resilient during his years on the gridiron, while Romo has been hurt time and time again.

For proof, check out this laundry list of Romo wounds assembled by Fox Sports:

Fox Sports
The most worrisome of these injuries involve Romo's back.

Quite simply, back problems are among the most difficult for NFL players to overcome. Just ask current Broncos DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib, both of whom have been dealing with back issues. Romo's great when he's on the field. Less so when he's flat on his...well, you know.

Nevertheless, John Elway will likely be sorely tempted to bring Romo aboard after the season's over, especially if the Broncos under-perform — and with a killer schedule in front of them and the rise of division rivals such as the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs, missing the playoffs remains a very real possibility.

Siemian has played adequately this season, but he looks more like a solid backup than the kind of QB that can lead the team for the long haul, and rookie Paxton Lynch remains largely an unknown quantity. A healthy Romo is almost certainly better than both of them at this stage. But how long Romo remains healthy is the big unknown.

Don't expect such questions to be answered immediately. But be ready for them to be asked time and time again over the coming weeks and months, by Mike & Mike and others.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts