Romo's Rest: Cowboys QB's History Of Valor

IRVING - Tony Romo is sitting out the Wednesday workout at Valley Ranch today, a sign that the Cowboys understand discretion over valor. ... until the regular season, when Romo's injury history suggests a great deal of valor.

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Tony Romo has taken a lot of abuse both on and off the field during his eight seasons as the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback. What he did Wednesday morning as the Cowboys prepare for preseason game No. 3 in Miami is ... rest. Protect himself. Guard against physical damage.

And while this is concerning to some, if you scan the list of the injuries Romo has sustained in his career with the Cowboys, you gain a deeper understanding of the physical hardship he has endured since 2006. ... and the value a healthy Romo brings to this franchise.


After the 2006 NFC Wildcard 21-20 loss to the Seahawks where Romo’s bobbled snap (with a slippery ball) "cost the Cowboys the game'' (even though their ultimate play was a Hail Mary that Terry Glenn watched fall incomplete), he sulked in his locker in CenturyLink Field and shed some tears. The four-year pro, who got his first ever career action that season and went a respectable 6-4, was distraught. He cost his team a playoff win, and extended the franchise’s playoff win drought to 10 years.

Backup quarterback Drew Bledsoe, the very man Romo replaced in that introductory season, cheered up the 26-year-old. Romo had a lot of promise, and Bledsoe told him to keep his head up and shake it off. With a 57-39 record since then and a playoff win, it’s fair to say Romo’s feelings recovered.



Thankfully, it was his non-throwing (left) shoulder.

In what ESPN billed as the “Duel in Dallas,” the 5-0 Cowboys hosted the 5-0 Patriots in Texas Stadium in a battle of Drew Bledsoe’s backups. New England featured Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Donte Stallworth in their receiving corps, and the Cowboys couldn’t keep pace, losing 48-27.

It’s unclear when exactly Romo suffered the rotator cuff injury, which he claims he sustained early in the game. New England only sacked Romo twice, and the offense went 11-of-17 on third downs. Even though Romo had his left arm pinned to his side leaving the stadium, he gave a “come on” smirk at a reporter who asked if he would still play the next week.


If hamstring issues are contagious, Cowboys observers can point to Tony Romo as “patient zero” for the epidemic.

On October 21, 2007, the 5-1 Cowboys hosted the struggling Vikings in Texas Stadium. With just under two minutes remaining in the first half, Romo threw a pass to wideout Patrick Crayton that the fourth-year receiver fumbled after taking a hit from Antoine Winfield. Vikings linebacker Ben Leber scooped up the ball and raced down the field. Ahead of getting tackle, Leber had the presence of mind to lateral the ball to defensive back Cedric Griffin, who took the fumble back for a touchdown. During the return, Romo slid during the pursuit to avoid blockers looking to tee off on him. Not only did Romo strain his right hamstring, but he earned a $5,000 fine from the NFL.

Romo needed the impending bye week now that he had a strained left shoulder and a strained right hamstring. It didn’t stop him or the Cowboys from going 7-2 down the stretch and locking up homefield advantage throughout the 2007 playoffs.


In the first half of Opening Day 2008 in Cleveland, Romo and led the Cowboys offense going 13/16 for 155 and a touchdown to take a 21-7 halftime lead. Browns coach Romeo Crennel, a three-time Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator in New England, threw everything but the kitchen sink at Romo.

Outside linebacker Willie McGinest and two other Browns defenders flattened Romo, with McGinest leading into the quarterback’s chin. The Eastern Illinois product grimaced for a few moments, but was back in the action the next series with nothing more than some tape and gauze covering up his gash. After the game, Romo needed 13 stitches to seal the wound, and the league later fined McGinest $7,500.

The most entertaining part of Romo’s injury – if there ever is such a feeling – was when the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback was on his way home from the airport in Dallas. Romo saw an older couple stranded on the side of the road, so he did what any other hotshot QB would do and changed their flat tire. When the gentleman saw Romo and his busted chin, he said, “Don’t tell me what happened! I’ve got the game recorded and haven’t watched it yet.”


The Cowboys were a tenuous 4-1 heading into their Week 6 game in Arizona against the Cardinals in 2008. To start off the game, Dallas gave up a touchdown on the opening kickoff. Arizona eventually put a 10-point lead on Dallas with a little over three minutes remaining in the game. Romo threw a check down to running back Marion Barber that went 70 yards for a touchdown, the defense stood their ground, and Nick Folk nailed a 52-yard field goal that sent the game into overtime.

In the extra period, on the opening play, Cardinals defensive end Chike Okeafor blindsided Romo, who fell awkwardly on his throwing hand. Unbeknownst to Romo, his hand was jacked up, and naturally the Cowboys went three-and-out. The Cardinals blocked the ensuing punt and returned it for a touchdown to win the game and send Dallas spiraling to 4-2.

Romo broke his fifth metacarpal. Of course, don’t tell the sensationalist sports media that, because they insisted it was his “pinkie.” Sportscenter subtly suggested what a wuss Romo was in contrast to a Mesa State College senior offensive lineman who amputated his fractured pinkie in an effort to keep playing. Jets quarterback Brett Favre allegedly called Romo and told him to suck it up and keep playing.

Ultimately, Romo sat out three games, and Dallas went 1-2 in his absence. Romo returned for the final seven games of the season and wore a partial cast on his throwing hand for three games (where he compiled a 102.5 passer rating).


Dallas was coming off a crushing loss in Pittsburgh and dropped to 8-5 in the NFC wildcard race. The Giants, who were coming into Texas Stadium for a Week 15 game on Sunday night, had a three-game lead on Dallas and weren’t expected to surrender their control of the NFC East.

On second-and-8 from the New York 27, Giants defensive end Renaldo Wynn, along with some of his teammates, sacked Romo, who took a knee in the back. He was slow to get up and grimaced on the sidelines. His status was in so much doubt that backup quarterback Brad Johnson began warming up.


However, Romo returned the next series and led Dallas to the end zone four plays later with a 34-yard touchdown to Crayton. Dallas won 20-8, and Romo needed treatment on his back that week.


Not even a week after the Cowboys lost their final game in Texas Stadium in heartbreaking fashion to the Ravens, the Eagles were creaming the Dallas Cowboys 44-6 and wresting control of the final wildcard spot in the NFC playoffs.

According to’s Mickey Spagnola, Romo suffered an injury in the second half of the game where his rib cartilage popped out and then back into place. Romo wore a flak jacket the rest of the game, and he nearly passed out in the showers afterwards. Two PR staffers needed to help Romo off the podium after his postgame press conference.

Kind of puts into perspective Romo’s infamous quote about “If this is the worse thing that ever happens to me,” doesn’t it?


The best way to make a 1-4 start worse is to lose your franchise quarterback on Monday Night Football to a hated division rival that has yet to lose in your home venue.

Every Cowboys fan has seen it. On first-and-10 not even three minutes into the second quarter, rookie fullback Chris Gronkowski failed to pick up blitzing Giants linebacker Michael Boley, who slammed into Romo and drove him into the AT&T Stadium turf on his left side. When trainers and teammate Jason Witten attended to Romo, the QB only had one thing on his mind: “Did he [Miles Austin] catch the pass?”

Austin caught the 14-yard pass, but Romo caught a break to his left collarbone. Romo tried to shrug off the injury on the sidelines and return to the game, but the training staff had to take him to the locker room to avoid any further damage. Romo’s night was done and so was his 2010 season.


For fans watching on television, after Dan Bailey’s missed field goal on the game’s opening possession, Romo all of a sudden started playing like a nerd. Over the next three possessions, he went 0-of-6 and Dallas went three-and-out each time. It wasn’t until the Cowboys got the ball with 3:05 left in the first half that the offense came alive and Austin broke away for a 53-yard touchdown.

After halftime, backup quarterback Jon Kitna spelled Romo, who was being evaluated for broken ribs. Romo was visibly upset on the sidelines, and Fox cameras caught the quarterback kicking the dirt upon returning to the locker room.

With Dallas down 21-14, Tony returned with 37 seconds in the third quarter to mount a 10-point comeback and force overtime in Candlestick Park. During the extra period, awaiting possession after the 49ers punted away, Romo placed his hand on receiver Jesse Holley, giving him careful instructions. On the very first play, Romo hit a streaking Holley for a 77-yard gain to set up Dan Bailey’s game winning 19-yard field goal.

Ultimately, it would be revealed Romo played with broken ribs and a punctured lung. For the next six games, Romo would wear a flak jacket made of Kevlar to protect his healing ribs.


On just his second pass attempt on the game’s first possession, Romo literally punched Eagles defensive end Jason Babin’s helmet after finishing his throwing motion. Given the Cowboys needed Romo the following week for a win-and-get-in game with the Giants, owner Jerry Jones had a sudden meeting with head coach Jason Garrett on the sidelines as to whether Romo should return to the game. Ultimately, he didn’t, and was shelved for Week 17 in New York.

NBC Sports cameras caught glimpses of Romo’s hand in pregame warm-ups at MetLife Stadium, and his hand was swollen to twice its normal size – some “bruised hand,” as the Cowboys medical staff called it. The signal caller was noticeable injured, but chose to play given the playoff implications.

Dallas fell 21-0 at halftime, but rallied back to within seven points at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Cowboys would lose 31-14, and Romo went 29-of-37 for 289, two touchdowns, one interception, and a 106.0 passer rating.


In yet another NFC East title game on the East Coast, Romo threw three costly interceptions that sealed Dallas’ fate at 8-8 and missing the playoffs.

A story that gets overshadowed about that game is that Romo played through cracked ribs starting in the second quarter of the contest. Certainly, Romo had already thrown two interceptions up to that point, but he nonetheless played three quarters of the game in pain.

Romo wasn’t the only Cowboys skill position that was banged up in the fourth quarter. Austin had a high ankle sprain, and Dez Bryant had back spasms so bad he needed a wheelchair to head to the locker room after the game.


With 38 seconds left until halftime, on a routine second-and-19, Romo threw for rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams. Giants defensive end Matthias Kiwanuka speared Romo on the right side and the quarterback writhed on the ground, prompting Dallas to call its final timeout. Kyle Orton subbed in for Romo and Dallas handed it off in effort to get to halftime.

Reportedly, after all the kicking and fist-pounding and scenes of pain, all that happened was Romo “had the wind knocked out of him.” He came back in the second half and led the Cowboys to a 36-31 victory over the New York Giants, their first win against them in AT&T Stadium history.

Coming off of a back surgery to simply excise a tiny cyst from Romo’s back, conspiracy theorists point to this injury as the one that set the tone for Romo’s tentative play in 2013 that ultimately led to our final entry on the list. (Of course, if you read CowboysHQ, you know it wasn't a "tiny cyst'' at all, but rather a cyst making connections to nerves and spine.)


Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson was the man who picked off Romo to effectively win the Week 17 encounter in 2012, and he was the man in Week 16, 2013 who drove Romo into the ground during an interception to finally jack up the passer’s back beyond repair.
Washington jumped out to a 23-14 lead on the Cowboys with an entire fourth quarter left to play. Dallas needed the win, for their playoff hopes were on the line. If they lost today, and the Eagles beat the Bears later that night (which happened to the tune of 54-11), they would miss the playoffs for the third fourth straight year.

Playing with a herniated disc, Romo went 9-of-12 for 160 yards and a touchdown. Romo’s signature moment was on fourth-and-goal from the Washington 10. He rolled out and bought time to find DeMarco Murray flaring to the right for the game-winning touchdown. The defense held on, and Dallas lived to fight for the NFC East title at AT&T Stadium the next week against Philadelphia. Romo’s 144.4 is the best passer rating anyone has ever accomplished with a herniated disc in NFL history.


After Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith’s playing career was over, a poll taken by players in the early ‘70s, a couple years after his retirement, voted Meredith the toughest NFL player they’d ever seen. It wouldn’t surprise if someday, those in the know recognize the same thing about Romo, who might not be permitted discretion over valor when the actual games begin, but is certainly doing so today at Valley Ranch in preparation for a relatively meaningless preseason game.

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