Tony Romo on the Eagles, the national anthem and Jason Witten’s ESPN gig
The Eagles' only game on CBS is a late-season matchup against the Houston Texans. But CBS and Tony Romo are calling the Super Bowl.
When a former Dallas Cowboys quarterback impresses even the most diehard Eagles fans, you know you're doing something right.
CBS took a gamble last season when it landed Tony Romo, who was highly sought by every major television network covering the NFL. Romo was immediately placed on the network's No. 1 broadcast team, forcing longtime color analyst Phil Simms out of the booth and into the studio.
There was some concern heading into the season that Romo would be in over his head. But to nearly everyone's surprise, the gamble paid off almost immediately thanks to Romo's energetic narration and his psychic-like ability to predict plays.
"There were a lot of questions about the wisdom of some of our decisions, but I'm proud to say they all exceeded our expectations," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said. "I'm proud not just of the job Tony did, but that team, with Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson… And as good as that team was in their first year, I think they're going to be better in their second year."
It's possible Romo won't call a single Eagles game this season. The Birds' only game on CBS is their Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans on Dec. 23. But if the Eagles manage to repeat, Romo will be calling next year's Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on CBS.
At a recent media day event in New York City, Romo spoke briefly to the Inquirer and Daily News about the Eagles, quarterback Carson Wentz and his friend and former teammate Jason Witten, who was hired by ESPN to replace new Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) head coach Jon Gruden.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
As someone who was injured once or twice in your career, what are your thoughts about the return of Carson Wentz?
[Wentz] shouldn't rush to come back. It's a long season, and one or two games isn't going to make a difference. I think they're good enough to contend without him. Obviously they won a championship last year without him, so they'll be fine the first few weeks of the season if [Nick] Foles has to start.
I think [Wentz] is obviously extremely talented. He just needs to be in a position where he feels comfortable on the football field.
What do you think of the Eagles' chances this season?
I think the Eagles are outstanding. I loved the Eagles last year, and said early in the season they'd be in the mix all the way to the end. They have a fantastic defense, and man, [defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz is going to have them playing good ball.
I do think for them the hardest thing is the mental approach this year. Coming after you win, that touch of complacency just creeps in. Football is such a demanding physical sport that when you taste success a little bit, sometimes it's difficult for guys to put their bodies back through this thing.
If they can get over the mental hurdle of that, then I think they're going to be difficult to beat as the season progresses.
A number of Eagles players protested racial injustice during the national anthem last season. Have fans talked to you about the anthem controversy at all?
I don't get a lot of fans asking about that. They ask about CBS, ask about football and the players and stuff. Not a lot of people are bringing up the anthem subject to me.
Do you think it's been overblown?
It's not… When I was there, this wasn't a subject, so obviously this has come up over the last couple of years. I genuinely think you're just seeing the evolution from two years ago, first with Colin [Kaepernick], then you see players continuing to do that.
Now you see the NFL try to make it about football, and social justice from the players, they're still trying to make it that. I think it's part of what happens in sports with players and people. I think you see a situation with the anthem where you get two sides to each story I guess.
What do you think people like most about what you did in your first year?
I don't know. You'd have to ask people.
What'd they tell you?
It's just a wide range. It's not like one specific thing. Someone likes your sounds, someone likes your energy, someone likes the fact you teach them about football sometimes… You're not trying to do one thing every day, and as an analyst, I hope I have multiple pitches, I guess you could say. I just know what I kind-of wanted to hear, and I tried to do that.
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You study football for 20 years, you feel your knowledgeable about the subject. For me, I try to make it a little bit of fun as well. It's hard to get people to listen for three hours to anything. We all want to be on our phones or doing something else, so I'm just trying to bring new techniques or ways to get people to enjoy something your talking about. If they like it, that's a big bonus.
Your former teammate Jason Witten is attempting his own Romo over at ESPN. How do you think he's done?
We talked a bit over the summer. He's done great. He's just starting off right now.
I think back to when I first started, I thought it was just going to be like if you knew football, you could do it. Then when I did some practice games, I was like, "Nope, that's not enough. I still stink. I'm not good at this. I'm bored with myself."
Like I told him, it's a long season so just put your head down and keep getting better and better, and you'll wake up and the season will be right towards the end.
And ignore Twitter.
Oh yeah. You're always going to have fans, and you're not going to have fans. That's always part of being in this business.