Tony Romo: Biding Time

Over time and throughout the world, there have been seven Ancient and Natural Wonders known to man. Upon further inspection, there should actually be eight. Along side The Pyramids of Egypt and The Grand Canyon there should be one additional entity: Cowboys reserve QB Tony Romo.

While the traditional seven have had millions pay, view, adorn and applaud their splendor, the eighth remains a local enigma. A complete mystery perched behind Drew Bledsoe in the Dallas pecking order of supremacy.

For the good of the order, the shroud of mystery must continue. At least for another year; possibly two. If the true identity of Tony Romo is revealed in 2006, chances are the Cowboys are flirting with disaster. Why? The starting quarterback is either hurt or deemed ineffective. Neither is a proposition offering much upside. You do not want to see Tony Romo on the field of play during 2006. End of story.

Patience is a virtue. His baptism, right along with the next phase of the Dallas Cowboys, will be ushered in a few sacred Sundays down the road. Until then, the fandom needs to fixate on the present. The current assembly of players, especially the skill positions, are built for "right here, right now." Brett Favre, in a recent interview being asked his views on Terrell Owens, noted, "The Cowboys are loading up." If there are statement disbelievers out there, you haven't been following along closely enough. Of course all the "we're just in it to compete" superlatives will be touted from the mount, but be clear on one thing. Jerry has loaded every chamber, and he fully expects to win it all. This year!! "Loading up" may prove to be a bit of an understatement when compared to overall expectations.

If the Cowboys weren't viewed as the top-rated player in free agency, they certainly reside in the top three. This isn't some test drive around the track. Sights are clearly set on the winner's circle.

Thus, Tony Romo needs to continue swinging golf clubs in the off-season and caddying for Drew Bledsoe during the regular season. Pretty sound logic if you're No. 9. Actually the flawed logic resides with the Cowboys' brass. If truly in the "right here, right now" mode, with the sun continuing to set on the Bledsoe and Parcells tenure, it could be construed as negligence not to have a veteran signal-caller either on deck or in the hole. Or is it?

For the third-year running, absent any treks across the pond, the organization has placed its trust and confidence in the former rookie free agent from Eastern Illinois. Indeed, you better read that statement one more time. The back-up quarterback for your beloved, on the cusp of breakthrough, team is a former, undrafted, rookie free agent from Eastern Illinois. What's wrong with this picture? What does the organization already know that none of us spectators have been able to validate with visual evidence?

In the most simplistic of terms, they like Tony Romo. Like him a lot. Must. How else do you rationalize the food stamps approach to the quarterback budget? Bank this: there are more prudent ways to save a few bucks when tightening the monetary belt, but NFL quarterback is not the suggested line item for frugalness. Not if you desire to compete and yearn to win.

It would have been most interesting to see the Sean Payton reaction had Tony Romo been available on the open, free agency market. Would there have been a play? Some type of indicator or reassurance that there's actually a "little something" to this kid? In this "prove it" world, where validation is constantly sought, the fan base is left with nothing more than blind faith and organizational trust. Talk about your gut check of intestinal fortitude. There comes a time when all must place heart and soul with those who actually do this for a living.

While certainly anxious to get his moment in the sun, Tony Romo continues to appear calm and unflappable. It could be a façade, but something says otherwise. There's a certain quiet air/heir to this kid, and that's a good thing. The history and mystique, which engulfs the position of Dallas Cowboys' quarterback, has to be daunting. Expectations run a little North of human. This has to be both frustrating and desirous for Romo. How could it be any other way? Patience, young man, patience. Take it all in. Observe and absorb. Enjoy the marginal scrutiny while you can. Your time is coming, and when it does, the Dallas Cowboys have truly entered a new era.

The flashes and grittiness, which have been on display during preseason games, are most encouraging. Just as the Thanksgiving decision to start Henson over Romo, the refusal to provide him any type of mop-up duty and the outright chance to acquire out-of-contention playing time (insert St. Louis game here) were pure, head-scratching frustrations. Short-sidedness or New Jersey stubborn? You make the call.

One thing is crystal clear. No inexperienced signal caller is going to see the field on Parcells' watch. Even if Bledsoe were on life support, the proposition would still be iffy. No quarterback desiring to play that very position will be drafted next weekend. If a QB's name is called Saturday or Sunday, it will be of the Brad Smith, Michael Robinson or Reggie McNeal ilk. Collegiate QB turned NFL wide out or return man. See, the Cowboys already have their man. Even if the likes of a Brady Quinn were to find himself "landed" in Big D next year, he will ride pine until the Tony Romo show has a chance to take center stage. For now, it has to remain a figment of the imagination, for any dose of 2006 reality means the season is over. When Bill goes, Tony arrives. Until then………

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