Nobody wants to see their favorite sports figure retire. These players become role models, idols, and sources of happiness (as well as sadness and anger) to the fans. Every sports fan, young or old, has a player that they feel a special connection with, even though we have never met them. We go through the ups and downs of the season with these players. We are elated when they are doing well, and frustrated when they have a down game. Not at them, for them. We want them to succeed, because they have worked hard over the off-season, and they DESERVE to win. We are in their corner no matter what. They can do no wrong in our eyes. If they throw an interception, either the receiver ran the wrong route, or the line did not cover all of their blocking assignments, or the weather would have caused anyone to throw an interception in those conditions. My personal favorite: “It’s third down, a long interception is the same as a punt”. I must have said that at least twice a season to defend bad throws. We even cry when they lose a big game in the playoffs. People ask, “How do you care so much about someone you don’t even know?”. Well, we do know them, they just don’t know us.
If you are lucky, you get to go through ten, fifteen, maybe even twenty years with this person. And when they retire, its almost as if they die. When is the best time to retire? Go out on top like John Elway with back to back Super Bowls, even if there is something left in the tank? Some may argue, if he came back he could’ve won a third. Or would it be better to hang on as long as possible, like Kobe Bryant, and be a shell of yourself on a team that is only going to the playoffs if they buy a ticket? Maybe there isn’t a right time. Michael Jordan retired three times, and is still probably considering another comeback.
For Tony Romo, it was April 4, 2017 that he decided to hang up his cleats. This was after almost three months of back and forth between being released and being traded. Every day was a new story, most of them probably false. The emotional roller coaster Romo was on, was also filled with countless fans wondering what jersey he will be wearing next season. We’ve loved him from his first completion, deep down the field to Sam Hurd. The ups and downs, the crazy plays, the injuries, and everything in between has filled our lives for the past 10+ years, and now it’s over.
As a Cowboy’s fan, and Romo fan as well, I’m glad it’s over. Not because I’m no longer a fan of Tony, I just don’t want to see him go out the same way Michael Irvin did. While it may not be 100% on Tony’s terms, this retirement is Tony’s decision. I can’t imagine watching Romo be carried off or have to hobble off a field to end his career. With no Star on his helmet, no less. This way, the last play of Romo’s career is a touchdown pass. It may have been a meaningless game, the Cowboys may have lost, but Romo got to go out on top. This also leaves the “what could’ve been” conversations, for decades to come. And nothing is more fun than wondering what would’ve happened if Romo had stayed healthy.
Am I being selfish? Should I want Romo to go to another team and compete for a Super Bowl? If I thought he could make it through a 16 game season, plus 3-4 postseason games, he would have my blessing. However, I, and anyone really looking at Romo’s health objectively, know that Tony playing in 20 NFL games is one step above impossible.
The biggest positive to Romo’s retirement from the NFL, is that we still get to see/hear him on Sunday’s. He will be the #1 color commentator on CBS, to go along with Jim Nantz. Personally, I see Romo more as a coach than a commentator (move over Jason Garrett), but I am excited to get to hear from two of my favorite Cowboy’s quarterbacks every week. Romo may not have had the most successful career compared to other Cowboy greats, but it will be hard to argue that he is not the more cherished in the hearts of Cowboy Nation.
Thanks for everything Tony, the Cowboys wouldn’t be where they are today without you.