When Tony Romo burst onto the scene as a sportscaster in 2017, he was a breath of fresh air that football fans never knew they needed.
Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and a shockingly good golfer, had just walked off into the sunset after current Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had taken his starting role, and was walking into the CBS announcers’ booth with minimal expectations. He exploded past those expectations with unique insights, prescient predictions and his trademark “aw, shucks” persona.
Romo was able to leverage all of that into what the New York Post called “the largest sports analyst contract in TV history” to stay with CBS.
That massive deal was reported to be a 10-year, $180 million contract, easily eclipsing the $10 million a year Romo reportedly wanted to make. (Even at $10 million per year, Romo would’ve broken the previous record held by John Madden and his $8 million a year salary.)
Given that investment, it should come as little surprise that CBS was quick to stage what the Post described as an “intervention” when there was some noticeable slippage in Romo’s broadcasting performance this past year.
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According to the Post, this “intervention” involved CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus and CBS’ lead NFL game producer, Jim Rikhoff, taking separate trips to Romo’s Dallas domicile to help him “focus more on being fully prepared” and work better with his broadcast partner, Jim Nantz. These meetings reportedly included tape reviews of Romo’s performance in the booth.
Given the sudden disdain toward Romo, the Post’s report certainly seems reasonable. But CBS fired back in a statement claiming that the report was completely out of line.
“To call this an intervention is a complete mischaracterization, we meet regularly with our on-air talent,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle said.
Regardless of how serious these meetings were between CBS executives and Romo, it’s hard to argue that Romo has lived up to his mammoth contract.
After just his first season calling games, Romo was a made man. He had arrived, and to many NFL fans, he was the new gold standard for players-turned-broadcasters. (Lest anyone forget, Hall of Fame-caliber athletes do not translate to Hall of Fame-caliber announcers.)
So impressive was Romo that outlets like Sports Illustrated and SB Nation gushed over his in-game analysis in their respective end-of-season reviews.
“In his rookie debut in the broadcast booth, former Cowboys QB Tony Romo earned high marks from both CBS producers and elsewhere, mixing predictive analysis with interesting insight,” Sports Illustrated wrote.
“Romo was great in the broadcast booth from Day 1. He brought his knowledge of the game to our homes immediately, predicted plays, and became a fun personality you couldn’t wait to tune in to watch,” SB Nation said.
Predicting plays became a hallmark of Romo’s. He used his deep understanding of defenses (from his years of playing quarterback at the highest level) to often tell viewers what was coming next.
Here’s Romo pretty much calling out what both the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks were going to do on a critical goal-line play:
Tony Romo with another accurate prediction… 🔮 pic.twitter.com/RajFBHJeSN
— SportsLine (@SportsLine) September 22, 2019
I like Romo as a commentator. He is better at that than he was a quarterback. He knows the game and how to explain what is happening on the field. Wait until Tom Brady gets on the crew!
Romo was a decent QB, but he is the worst analyst I’ve ever listened to. He starts points he doesn’t finish. He has a manner in the booth that’s more akin to sitting in a bar wishing that loudmouth at the end would just shut up. He’s the ‘Cliff Claven’ of sports broadcasting, I cringe when CBS has the game I want to watch.