By Mark Freie
In the NFL, if you perform on the field and win, you get paid.
New England Patriots three time Super Bowl winning quarterback, Tom Brady, recently restructured his contract guaranteeing him $57 million through 2017, assuring him his spot in Foxboro’s heart for the rest of his career. Brady, a two time Super Bowl MVP and two time regular season MVP, has proven time in and time out that he is worth every cent thrown his way. Throughout the past week, Green Bay Packers starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been speculated to being close to signing a deal that would put around $25 million dollars a year in his bank for the next four years, the MVP of Super Bowl XLV has certainly shown that he will be the man to consistently lead Packer nation to the playoffs for years to come. And if you still need proof about winning leading to getting paid, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco recently signed a six year, $120.6 million contract with $52 million in guaranteed grocery money, all after winning this past Super Bowl.
And then there is Tony Romo. On Friday, March 29, Dallas Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones confirmed that the Cowboys had resigned Tony Romo, the onetime playoff game winner, to a team record six year, $108 million with $55 million in guaranteed money. Romo’s new contract made him the highest paid Cowboy’s player in history, and he made this money with one playoff win and zero Super Bowl appearances. America’s Team groans again.
As a 22 year old college student who is a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, I am constantly reminded of the glory days of “the triplets” Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and the NFL’s all time leading rusher Emmitt Smith. While Aikman spent a lot of time injured due to concussions, he still stepped up and led the Cowboys in the playoffs posting a career record of 11-4 with three Super Bowl wins. What does Troy Aikman have to do with Tony Romo’s career? Absolutely nothing, but in comparison, Aikman once signed the Cowboys highest paying contract in 1993 worth a measly $50 million over eight years, after winning a Super Bowl might I add.
The Cowboys of the 2000’s have been a far cry from the team that dominated the 1990’s. To be fair, the Cowboys inconsistent ways started with multiple quarterback and coaching changes in the early 2000’s. When Tony Romo was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois University in 2003, owner Jerry Jones and Cowboys fans across the nation exhaled thinking they had finally found the guy to lead the Cowboys to the Lombardi Trophy. Finally, in 2006 Tony Romo had the Cowboys positioned to make a run deep into the playoffs after acquiring the starting job from Drew Bledsoe. However, the Cowboys fate was sealed in the NFL Wild Card game when Romo fumbled the snap on a field goal that would have placed the Cowboys ahead of the Seattle Seahawks, ultimately losing the game. Since that infamous fumbled field goal attempt, Tony Romo has posted a 1-3 record in the playoffs.
I will not be shy to say that Tony Romo does possess the talent needed to be a MVP caliber quarterback. In 2012 Romo broke the Cowboys career passing touchdown record previously held by Troy Aikman. Romo also holds the lowest career interception percentage within the history of the Dallas Cowboys. The talent within the Cowboys organization allows Romo to lead his team into the playoffs every single year, but he needs to seize that opportunity.
What is so disappointing about Romo’s extension is that it rewards inconsistent play with optimistic hopes that Romo is in fact, the franchise quarterback. Jerry Jones, known for his dominating presence within the Cowboys organization, has criticized and praised Romo too many times to count. However, it seems as if Jerry Jones felt backed into a corner and felt no options other than throwing Tony Romo a nice chunk of change, for nothing. With Jones however, money seems to be the answer to the Cowboys prayers. With the extra $5 million in cap space, due to Romo’s new deal, it allows the Cowboys ability to make free agent moves. The only thing I can say now is, I hope that Dallas Cowboy fans are ready for the Tony Romo saga to continue for years to come in Cowboys Stadium.