TAKE 1: This week, dozens of Cowboys people will tell you this is no big deal. Kids, I was at training camp and reported it to you when one of Romo's bosses whispered to me that Romo had been all but ordered to "lay low'' and "take it easy.'' The order came from Jerry. Additional guidance on the subject came from Jason Garrett. And those "lay-low'' orders were over Tony taking the stage in LA to sing some "Journey'' with a cover band. Child's play, compared to this.
Jerry and Jason and the rest will say all the right things publically this week. But privately? Well, they already said it, to him, all the way back in training camp.
TAKE 2: Call me a cynic in the area of romance, but there is part of me that believes Papa Joe Simpson is very much in charge of this relationship, and that if Brad Johnson were single and the starter, Jessica's boyfriend would be named ‘Brad Johnson.'
TAKE 3: Romo has no right to shun the media this week. You painted a bullseye on your chest, kid. You asked for this. Being a "celebrity QB''? You wanted this. Deal with it. And for Cowboys fans who chide the media here by claiming "nobody cares about this.'' … you're fibbing. It IS a story. And you DO care. Football and money and fame and sex and celebrity. ... you SHOULD care!
TAKE 4: I hope he didn't drink the water.
TAKE 5: So, exactly what ARE the Cowboys allowed to do on their off-days? Barry Switzer, on the Saturday night before a Cowboys game, scooted up to Arkansas to watch his kid play. When he got ripped for it, Barry poked fun at the bogus reputation coaches have of spending Saturday nights "in their rooms, with a projector aimed at a bed sheet hanging on the wall.''
Joe Gibbs and Jon Gruden and those guys don't sleep on their office couches EVERY night, you know. I was with Jimmy Johnson on many an in-season Friday and Saturday night. He wasn't studying, unless Heineken, nachos and Blue Bell Ice Cream are study aids.
TAKE 6: Tom Brady spent his off-week hanging out in NY with girlfriend/supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Is there a difference? Only one: Brady, with three SB rings, can claim he's got everything under control. Romo simply hasn't earned that luxury.
TAKE 7: My friend Newy Scruggs calls me to make a point: He used to cover Magic Johnson in LA. He says when it was playoff time, Magic didn't answer the door, didn't answer the phone, didn't go out, nothing. "The playoffs are when I do my thing,'' Magic would say.
Obviously, Magic had his fun. But NOT as the playoffs were opening.
TAKE 8: Did Troy Aikman ever party? Yes. I was there. He chased girls, he drank beers, he dated celebrities, he had fun, whatever. But on the Thursday before his first Super Bowl, he turned down a party invite from opposing QB Jim Kelly simply because he wanted to be careful.
TAKE 9: Is a weekend vacation really more "distracting'' than a weekend of job interviews? "The most important thing right now is what we do here with the Dallas Cowboys," said interviewee Tony Sparano. "I was the first person in the office and I didn't get home until midnight. I couldn't wait to get in here and get back to work."
Well, the most important thing at CERTAIN MOMENTS this weekend for Sparano was NOT the Cowboys. During his job interviews, the most important thing was Tony Sparano. And is it all "fixed'' by Sparano being the first guy to work on Monday morning? If so, then rest easy. … because I'm quote sure Tony Romo showed up on time for work today, too.
TAKE 10: My friend Richie Whitt calls me with this idea: Romo is in danger of losing his "Everyman'' appeal. One of the reasons Cowboys Nation loves Romo is that he's "one of us,'' a third-stringer made good. The more he becomes an A-lister, the more he distances himself from Joe Six-Pack.
TAKE 11: If Tony ends up co-starring in a Pizza Hut commercial that runs during the Super Bowl and pays him, say, a half-a-million bucks. … is this all worth it?
TAKE 12: How come nobody's mad that Jason Witten also went to Cancun?
TAKE 13: You've kind of got to admire Romo's balls. I guarantee he had people telling him to skip this trip. But he's doing what feels right to him – which is part of what's gotten him where he is.
TAKE 14: A private jet from Dallas to Cancun and back is probably less taxing than a bus ride from Dallas to Shreveport. If somebody shot a photo of Flozell Adams and Leonard Davis doubling-down at a casino in Louisiana, would we care?
TAKE 15: For the good of the team, I hope T.O. declines comment on this.
TAKE 16: But he won't.
TAKE 17: The 90's Cowboys went on plenty of Romo-like dates and get-togethers and vacations – and I'm not talking about the "bad guys'' and their White House. I'm talking about drunken bungee-jumping, I'm talking about stealing each others' girlfriends and I'm talking about everybody who ever played cards with Mark Tuinei.
But there are differences: The internet. The paps. The cellphone cameras.
TAKE 18: So there are the photos of the lovebirds on the balcony. And there is Tony, with his cap on backwards, and the blue ‘D' featured prominently.
Maybe this is all about helping Jerry sell some ballcaps?!
TAKE 19: I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Rock: "Women weaken legs!''
TAKE 20: I know his teammates love Romo. But it is not difficult to imagine some of the fellas, in the weight room on their day off, glancing up at the TV, seeing Romo sunning in Mexico. … and loving Romo just a little less.
TAKE 21: Have you ever spent the weekend on vacation? And then showed up for work on Monday? If you did it – right before the big sales meeting with Mr. Smithers from the Widget Dept. – why can't a football player do it?
TAKE 22: Part of me feels as silly for writing this column as you feel for reading it. Still. … if you are a Cowboys fan, you will at least lose a couple of moments of sleep this week worrying about your team's focus.
TAKE 23: I bet Romo took some scouting/studying material with him, if that makes y'all feel any better.
TAKE 24: One of my favorite games in my three decades of Super Bowl coverage: Chronicling what each team decides to do with its free day on Monday. Inevitably, one team plays golf, and the other team goes drinking. And then Sunday comes, and either the Drinkers or the Golfers win. … and the media then says the Drinkers were "loose'' (if they won) or "unfocused'' (if they lost) and the Golfers were "prepared'' (if they won) or "tight'' (if they lost).
So it will be with Tony Romo. Beat the Giants on Sunday, and he will be proclaimed as "loose.'' Fail to get the job done? The only thing "loose'' will be "all hell breaking.''
Twenty-Four Tony Takes
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