The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

Romo Chokes the 'Boys


Unlike my colleague Mark Maske, I'm actually paid to have an objectionable opinion, and here it is: The Cowboys are better off without Tony Romo. That's right, they have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl with Brad Johnson at the helm, and here's why.

Tony Romo suffers from a debilitating affliction known as unconscious choke-avitis. It stems from acute deficiencies of what players call "clutch." When most people are faced with a fight or flight situation we will either flee or attack. In the case of Tony Romo, he seems to freeze, then fumble the ball. Worse still oh Dallas fans, unlike the broken pinkie which will keep on the bench for the next four weeks, choke-avitis can't be cured and is terminal to any team's championship prospects.

I know, I know, he's a two time pro-bowler, with a career passer rating just below 100. He has led Dallas to a 26-12 record since starting at QB and even seems to have made T.O. less selfish, but these are regular season accomplishments. When confronted with do or die, playoff pressure Romo has buckled, folded and then choked on said folded buckle with Costanzian consistency. And as his background indicates, the condition is both chronic and congenital.

In high school, Romo played quarterback for the Burlington Demons his junior and senior year. Despite being named to the Wisconsin's All-Racine County football team he was unable to lead his squad to a winning record.

In college, Romo attended Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. As a quarterback for the Panthers he amassed the second most passing yards in school history and was also the number two most prolific passer. Romo was three times named the All-Ohio Valley Conference player of the year, and in his senior year he won the Walter Payton Award as the best offensive player in what was then called Division I-AA.

Those numbers helped his team earn three straight berths in the FCS -- D I-AA's tournament to decide its national champion. In 2000, Eastern Illinois was blown away in the first round by Montana, 45-13. In 2001, Romo led Division I-AA in passing efficiency, but suffered another heart-breaker in the first round to Northern Iowa, 49-43. The third time was unfortunately not the charm for Romo either, who while being anointed the best offensive player, lost yet again in the first round, this time to cross-state rival Western Illinois University in a 48-9 massacre.

Perhaps NFL coaches detected his choke-avitis back then, as he went undrafted in 2003. However, Eastern Illinois has its share of alums in the league, among them Sean Payton who at the time was assistant head and quarterbacks coach in Dallas. Payton took a shine to his fellow Panther signing him as the third string.

He remained there until 2004 when he would most likely have been cut had Bill Parcells not made a sudden and unexpected move in the preseason. With Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson and Chad Hutchinson at his disposal the Tuna had no need for Romo until he axed starting quarterback Quincy Carter for alleged substance abuse. That one move both ended Carter's career and saved Romo's.

Coming in as a back-up, with nothing to lose, he played inspired football. He led fourth quarter comebacks, engineered miracle plays and totally surpassed expectations. As a starter he has brought respectability back to America's team and countless millions in revenue to Jerry Jones. What he has not done in Dallas, or anywhere else in his career for that matter, is win a playoff game. He has however blown a couple for the Cowboys.

Dallas fans, if you have a weak stomach, now would be a good time to look away.

In 2006, the Cowboys had the Wild Card Game against Seattle all but won. With 1:19 left they had merely to kick a 19-yard field goal, and march on. Then this happened:

In 2007, after an impressive 13-3 regular season record, the Cowboys seemed primed to lock horns with the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl XLII. Before getting there they had to bump off the wild card Giants who everyone knew didn't have a chance. It turns out they did. But even though New York held a 21-17 in the final minutes, Romo still had an opportunity to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. Instead on the final drive, he threw the winning touchdown right into the arms Giants cornerback R. W. McQuarters. Then this happened:

But all the tears in the world can't change the fact that Tony Romo simply doesn't have what it takes to lead his team to a championship. And that's not a knock against his talent, which is ample, but an observation of his disabling affliction. They say that champions are born, but so too are chokers. These are not players like Charles Barkley or Dan Marino, who put up great numbers but have never won a championship. These are players like Barry Bonds and Greg Norman, who put up great numbers and then blow the championship.

The good news for Dallas though is that Brad Johnson does not suffer from choke-avitis. Despite being on the downswing of a 17-year career he has, unlike Romo, won playoff games and even a world championship. For the Cowboys sake, let's hope Romo's baby finger chokes during rehab.

By Emil Steiner  |  October 14, 2008; 1:26 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , Quarterbacks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Romo may not have won the championship but you cannot seriously believe the team is better off with Johnson. He is like 50 years old and feeble.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 14, 2008 11:17 AM

Are you kidding? you sound like a typical redskins fan who wish you had Romo as your QB -- just plain bitter you are.

I'm not comparing Romo to Manning or other QBs, but Manning lost 3 straight playoff games, choke-avitis as you call it, before he finally won a couple games and eventually the SuperBowl. How Many years did it take Elway? how many for Favre? Did Marino ever win a SuperBowl?

Again, not putting Romo into those guys categories, but last weeks game was essentially his 32nd regular season game (2 years) as the starter. How long did it take Manning to win a playoff game? 3, 4, 5 years?

Give the guy a break. 2 years ago that was a fluke with the dropped snapped. Last year he actually played really well, but it was a couple of his WRs, specifically Crayton that dropped a couple huge balls and gave up a play when Romo threw a perfect pass to take the lead. And how can you call him a choke-avitis against the Giants last year when they steam-rolled through Tampa, Dallas, Greenbay and the Patriots?

Posted by: Mark | October 14, 2008 6:22 PM

Manning won in college at a big school, so did Marino. Romo has done 0. He is a loser

Posted by: Anonymous | October 14, 2008 6:43 PM

Romo starts off the season great, then starts choking near the playoffs. Reminds me of another Dallas QB named Danny White. Stabach/Aikman are hard shoes to fill. Remember what the Tuna said, 'don't put crown on his too soon.

Posted by: Greg | October 14, 2008 7:34 PM

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