Romo Was Great, But Leader Guy He Isn’t
When it was 3rd and 21 in last week’s Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, Tony Romo came through for his team, when he ran away from the blitz to create enough time for his injured receiver to break open from the not so steel-curtain defense of cornerback Deangelo Hall.
It was a great play for Romo, one that will go down as one of his most courageous. And given that he had jacked up ribs and no receivers around him, the entire game can viewed as somewhat of a “legend-maker” for Romo.
But that’s only if he ever becomes a legend. When I text messaged my Dallas Cowboys fan for a brother after Romo made that play, he promptly exclaimed that very fact, that Romo was indeed headed for legendary status and that this game was the first step towards it. I quickly reminded my brother that in front of Tony Romo, in the line for legendary status, is both Eli Manning and Trent Dilfer—and they have lawn chairs on hand.
That’s not to say Romo isn’t a better talent than both of those guys, because he certainly is. But do you know really is a legend? Tom Brady. John Elway. Joe Montana. Peyton Manning. Those guys are legends, and Tony Romo is no Peyton Manning.
In fact, there was a great example of just how un-legendary and how un-Manning-like Romo really is. Down on the goal line, the game on the line, and the Cowboys looking for their first touchdown of the game, Romo had inexperienced receivers that didn’t seem to know the formations or the routes. And on 3rd and goal, faced with having to score a touchdown or kick yet another field goal, the play resulted in Romo mis-throwing a receiver who ran the wrong route.
Now, for any normal quarterback, that is perfectly understandable, and I do not fault Romo in the least for his receivers failing to run the right routes throughout the entirety of the game. After all, he’s been out all week, likely placing an entire cow on his ribs for the last few days, he shouldn’t also be tasked with having to teach his receivers the finer art of—well, receiving.
Or should he?
As faultless as Romo is for his receivers’ lack of knowledge, that crap never happens to Peyton Manning. Sure, he and a receiver will have a miscommunication from time to time, Peyton will throw a hissy-fit in front of the camera, and 9 times out of 10, it was probably Peyton who was right. But that doesn’t happen 10 or 12 times a game like it did to Romo the other night, and believe me, Manning has had his fair share of injured receivers. Yet for some reason, when you throw an Austin Collie, a Pierre Garcon, an Anthony Gonzalez and a Jacob Tamme in front of Peyton Manning, they don’t just run the right routes, they become all-world wide receivers.
That’s what makes Manning, and his other peers, legends and so-called “leader guys.” They actually lead their receivers not just to wins, but to performances beyond their means. Dan LeBatard always jokes that if you lined up a shopping cart at tight end and had the left tackle give it a push down the field at the start of every play, Manning would make the shopping cart a 1,000 yard receiver. On the flip-side, Romo would yell, scream and embarrass the shopping cart 12 times per game, throw an interception in the direction of the shopping cart, and lose the game.
Am I being unfair? Not really. Again, it’s not Romo’s fault that his best receivers that night were injured, and the remaining ones didn’t know how to play football. But the great ones, the ones that demonstrate true leadership, make others rise to their level of excellence. It’s why Rob Grownkoski is the best fantasy football option in the world right now, and it’s why Jordy Nelson is practically Pro Bowl bound. Their quarterbacks make lesser plays better players, and they do it over a season, during the playoffs, or even in as small a sample size as a one-game spin-off, in which all other 10 starters have been stricken by the 3 hour flu just before kickoff.
That’s not what Romo does. It’s not what he did Monday Night. What Romo did Monday night was single-handedly get a victory, despite everybody around him messing up. But that’s not what the great quarterbacks do. That’s not what the Hall of Fame quarterbacks do. With those guys, you can’t tell that they are doing all of the heavy lifting, because the demand the best out of everyone around them, and the lackluster crap that went on with Romo’s receivers on Monday night is not something you see Brady and Manning dealing with throughout an entire game—ever.
But big ups to Romo. He came through Monday night. He is a great quarterback, one of the top 10 in the league. But legend? Hall of Famer? Leader guy? Peyton Manning? Those things he is not.
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