Private passer?

IRVING, Tex. - It often is said that playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is the single most high-profile position in American sports.

That's a matter of debate, but it is true that Don Meredith and Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman — and even Drew Bledsoe and Drew Henson — are household names to football fans across the country. Where Romo ranks against the likes of LeBron James or Alex Rodriguez or Alexander Ovechkin is hard to say, because each is a megastar in his own sport.

But Romo admitted Tuesday that he has felt the glare of the spotlight. His off-field activities, he said, are sometimes exaggerated by members of the media trying desperately to land the story that sells the most newspapers, and Romo said that he is more aware of the presence of media since he took over as the team's starter during the 2006 season.

"Contrary to popular belief, I don't golf that often," he said. "But to hear some people tell it, I'm playing every day.

"Being a professional athlete, I know people are going to watch much of what I do. I've been exposed to paparazzi, and I'm more aware of them now."

He's hardly shy, of course.

His romance with Jessica Simpson has been steady tabloid fodder since the pair met, and he has been known to take on less-than-discreet activities, climbing on stage to croon (or croak) a Journey song with a heavy metal band last year, and leading the singing of Take me out to the Ballgame earlier this summer at Wrigley Field.

Nonetheless, Romo understandably doesn't want a camera shoved in his face everywhere he goes, and sometimes finds the need to take steps to avoid the extra attention when he can. He said he sometimes makes arrangements to keep the media at bay, arranging for alternate entry to events or extra security.

"When I'm getting ready to leave to go to an event where people know I'm going to be there, sometimes I'll call ahead," he said. "Plus, I've got some pretty strong buddies."

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