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Tony Romo gets the last laugh with record TV deal with CBS

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Tony Romo is probably the best national color analyst to come along in decades. And that’s why CBS signed him to a record-setting deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Who’s laughing, now, Tony Romo meme makers?

He is, actually, as are the Romo meme makers...in his favor, this time. Did you see the one about how he got his big, new contract before Cowboys quarterback, and the guy who helped to launch his TV career by taking his starting job in 2016, Dak Prescott?

I can’t find it, but I assure you I saw it on Facebook, Sunday morning, which happened to be the day after CBS announced that Romo will be staying on as its lead color analyst for NFL games for the foreseeable future, thanks to a record-setting deal that will pay him $17 million per season.

I say, good for Romo. Good for the guy who, despite making the jump from undrafted free-agent out of Eastern Illinois in 2003 to established NFL quarterback that passed for over 34,000 yards in a 14-year career with America’s Team, was known mostly for his failure to do anything in Dallas but be the butt of jokes (and memes).

Did you hear the one about the botched hold on a potential game-winning field goal in a playoff match-up against the Seahawks following the 2006 season? No? If you didn’t, that may be because some jokes tend to be regional. There’s a similar joke about Romo that originated in Pittsburgh back in 2008, only the punchline has him throwing a pick-six to Deshea Townsend that completes a Steelers comeback victory at Heinz Field. In Green Bay, the punchline of the Romo joke is Dez Bryant’s failure to survive the ground on what would have been a critical catch near the end of a divisional round playoff game against the Packers following the 2014 season.

In addition to those jokes, there are the ones about Romo’s health which stem from the many physical ailments he suffered from during his career.

Jokes, aside, Romo ultimately established himself to the point of being one of the highest-paid quarterbacks by the end of his career. Oh yeah, and he also had the opportunity to date some gorgeous celebrities—Jessica Simpson and Carrie Underwood come to mind without even Googling it—before marrying the very lovely Candice Crawford.

I guess with a life like that, you can withstand being the butt of a few jokes (and a zillion memes).

In all seriousness, Romo is damn good at his job as a color analyst. As others have said, in addition to the enthusiasm and nice guy demeanor always on display during games, he has a reputation for being able to predict plays before they even happen. Is he a prophet? No. As my uncle said a few years ago, “He knows so much about modern NFL offenses and defenses because he just got done playing. What does Dan Fouts know about the modern passing game?”

No, Romo isn’t a prophet, and yes, he certainly benefits from his recent playing career. However, that didn’t seem to help his old buddy, tight end Jason Witten, after Witten retired following the 2017 season and tried to copy Romo by becoming ESPN’s color analyst on its Monday Night Football broadcasts in 2018. Was Witten any good? No, in fact, after not being the butt of any jokes (or memes) during his stoic playing career with the Cowboys, he became one huge joke of a color analyst, so much so, in fact, that’s mostly all people Tweeted about during those broadcasts. Just how bad was Witten? So bad, he came out of retirement to play with the Cowboys a season ago.

Romo managed to draw criticism from current players, who took to Twitter to bemoan and mock the deal on Saturday. Below are some of those Tweets, courtesy of The Dallas Morning News:

“Thank you that’s why we shouldn’t sign the new CBA agreement no way the announcer should be making more than 90% of the players.”—Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints.

“So tight the ppl who actually play the game and put their body on the line, are dreaming to be a able to get a deal like the people who sit down and just explain to the audience what we just did on the field lol so fresh”—Tony Jefferson II, veteran, free agent safety.

You’d think if any group would be supportive of Romo’s deal, it would be NFL players. After all, how long does your average national color analyst have before the fans turn on him and accuse him of hating their team—two-and-a-half years? Three, tops? Romo is just trying to make his money while he can. Besides, what do players and people who stick up for their financial success always say? “A player is worth whatever someone is willing to pay him.”

CBS obviously thinks what Romo brings to the table is valuable enough to sign him to a record deal.

And CBS is right. Romo is a gift that keeps on giving. Not only has he managed to become popular with the national audience, unlike current and former heavyweights in the business—including Cris Collinsworth, Phil Simms and John Madden—people seem to universally love what Romo brings to each and every telecast.

Tony Romo is a national treasure. No, he didn't win many big games during his career. But he's the best in the business in his new career of describing how people play the game of football, and that’s why he’s laughing all the way to the bank.