Romo is No Playa

And the final score: Young, unheralded QB who won the OVC Player of the Year Award and had dinner with Jessica Simpson's dad 27. Young, heralded QB who won the Heismann Trophy and had breakfast cooked for him by Paris Hilton 10.

Both young QBs featured in Sunday's Cowboys win at Arizona have become dot-dot-dotty features of the sexed-up NFL rumor mill. The Cardinals' Matt Leinart has all sorts of advantages over Romo there, if only because in the last half-year while Leinart was in the process of impregnating a lovely member of the USC basketball team, he was also spotted exiting Ms. Hilton's love nest.

Meanwhile, Tony Romeo turns out the be a romatic fraud. The real deal as a quarterback, quite possibly -- and let me be the first to eat bird on that one -- but an unintentially poser in the cover-of-People-magazine department.

If you paid attention to the off-the-field gossip last week, you might assume that Romo had gone from Burlington (Wisc.) Backup to Broadway Ro'. There was a blog mention and then a radio mention and then suddenly, it's all over "Pardon The Interruption'' ("PTI'') and "Around The Horn'' ("ATH'') and, I guess, E! Entertainment Television, too.

Truth is, Tony Romo has long harbored a TV-watching crush on Jessica Simpson, the bombshell singer/actress/Page Six staple with Dallas-area roots. Which makes him different from your average subscriber. ... in absolutely no way.

So when that news hit the networks, the gossip mill cranked up. Romo, it was said, was to engage in a Thursday night rendezvous with the starlet.

But it was not to be. On Thursday night of last week, taking a break from Arizona preparation, Romo attended a corporate party in Addison, Texas, honoring Hall-of-Famer Rayfield Wright. His date? It was either road roomie Jason Witten (who showed up at the well-heeled Lombardo's Custom Apparel soiree in cargo shorts, a T-shirt and a backwards Yankees cap) or the (admittedly lovely) Rich Dalrymple, the Cowboys' PR director.

Now, earlier in the week, on Monday, Romo was in LA to film a segment for "Best Damn Sports Show.'' And he took time to dine with Simpson. ... JOE Simpson, Jessica's dad and a long-time Cowboys fan. Simpson didn't get a goodnight kiss at the door; he did get tickets to an upcoming Cowboys game, and discussed with Romo some vague business concept that would involve the QB and Mr. Simpson, who is a talent manager for his two songstress daughters.

But that's it.

Good thing Romo is for the moment leaving the Bimbo Chase to Leinart, the highly-touted stud who looked like the second-best QB on the field Sunday. Tony was 20-of-29 for 308 yards and a couple of touchdowns. His numbers in three starts are highly impressive (862 yards, five touchdowns and one interception) and gosh, if T.O. catches that 74-yarder against Washington, Tony Romo is 3-0 as a starter, with somewhere around 1,000 yards passing and a QB rating hovering way above the Peyton Manning Line.

Coincidentally, it's Manning vs. Romo this week: Blue-chip (Manning's regal resume) vs. Red-faced (my court-jester status for ever doubting the guy).

"It's like a metamorphic change," Owens said last week before a Cardinals game in which Romo's passes would somehow feature a handful of different pass-catchers (no Glenn, but guys named "Crayton'' and "Hurd'' supplementing T.O.) in key roles. "He just knows how to play quarterback.''

Not completely. In this league, "playing quarterback'' has long meant romancing JoJo Starbuck (Terry Bradshaw) or dating Bridget Moynahan (Tom Brady) or cuddling with a Playboy Playmate (Jeff Garcia) or marrying that Elisabeth girl from "Survivor'' (Tim Hasselbeck) or dating 25 girls at once (Jesse Palmer on "The Bachelor'') or banging Tara Reid (all of the rest of them.)

So Tony Romo, much to my surprise, is a player at quarterback. But he's not a playa at quarterback.

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