Dallas Cowboys

Romembering the Tony We Fell in Love With

I bet there were times over the last month when you read Tony Romo's "sun'll come out tomorrow" quotes and profanely muttered, "Man, he needs a $%&*$#@ publicist!"

Well, he's got one. Same one he's had since - before, actually - he ascended to the throne of starting quaterback of the Dallas Cowboys. But Dallas-based Vivian Fullerlove is more facilitator than strategist.

Romo's publicist is much more likely to choreograph his visit to a Dallas high school with Will Smith than to, say, tell him to use the word "angry" rather than "whatever" after a season-ending defeat.

Doubtful if it was Fullerlove who blew up Romo's phone this week and told him the natives are restless. But somebody did.

Whether it's damage control or he's finally grasping the enormity of his responsibility as quarterback of America's Team, Romo suddenly is saying all the right things. He'll be a better, stronger leader. It kills him that they sucked this year. He's dedicated to improving over the off-season.

We won't know until May at OTAs, July in training camp and, ultimately, December and the annual winter wilting, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

I, and you, have been hard on Romo. He came out of nowhere, yet suddenly we expected everything all the time right now. But, let's face it, he's a different cat. While Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman were groomed and destined for greatness their whole lives, Romo kind of stumbled into stardom.

With millions in his bank and her in his bed, Romo's already an over-achiever playing with house money. Seriously, it takes a special persona to accomplish your life's goals and still muster the ooomph to keep on pushing.

Relatively speaking, his fame and fortune came fast, furious and, well, without pressure. Not much was expected of an undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois. Now, we demand Super Bowls. Kurt Warner be damned, if Romo ever makes it to the ultimate game he'll do it with the worst Super Bowl quarterback pedigree ever. We can't forget that.

Throw in the enlightened perspective gained from his father's recent scare with prostate cancer and it's easy to see how Romo isn't devastated by losses. Understandable, but still not acceptable.

Perhaps we should meet him in the middle between Cinderella story and unrealistic expectations. This week was a good start.

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt