Tony Romo was back in a hospital Tuesday. But he was only there to visit.
The Cowboys star, who has dealt with one medical issue after another throughout his nine-year run as an NFL starting quarterback, joined a pack of teammates at Texas Scottish Rite - a pediatric center in the heart of Dallas. Greeting infirm children confined to wheelchairs and equipped with back braces, Romo signed autographs and posed for pictures.
"I think more than anything you appreciate your health and how lucky you are and how not everybody has that," Romo said.
It was an interesting comment coming from the 34-year-old quarterback who never seems to be in optimal condition anymore and has suffered physical hardship throughout his career. Already this season, he has dealt with torn rib cartilage and a pair of transverse process fractures in his back - the same back that was surgically repaired twice in 2013 to fix a herniated disk and remove a cyst. Asked if all of his injuries have healed, Romo mustered an ambiguous response Tuesday.
"I think everything is close," said Romo, whose Cowboys will visit the Eagles on Sunday night in a battle for the top spot in the NFC East.
Despite the toll his body has taken, Romo has missed only two games in the last four seasons. During that period, he has also suffered a fractured rib, a punctured lung and a bruised right hand. Along the way he has reshaped his own narrative - the one about the quarterback who always folds in the clutch. Romo is still known for combusting in big moments, but he's also gained recognition as one of the game's ultimate tough guys.
Now, some wonder why Romo continues to throw himself in harm's way when the risk is so considerable and his financial future had already been secured with a $108 million contract extension he signed in 2013.