For the first time since he was a little kid, Tony Romo is not spending his summer getting ready to play football.
On July 22, the Dallas Cowboys will fly to Oxnard, California, for the start of training camp, and for the first time since 2002, Romo won’t be there. Romo walked away from a playing career and moved on to a broadcasting career with CBS in April, but his preparation has not ended.
“It feels a little bit like I’m training for something,” Romo said in a news conference at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe. “As an analyst, I’m having to learn a lot. And I’m trying to create as many opportunities for myself to evaluate myself as I can. And that means doing it. And it’s just hard to find new avenues to do it over and over again. But I’m finding those, and it’s keeping the competitive nature in you going. It’s keeping me obviously close to the game, which I’m passionate about. So it kind of, like right now, it doesn’t feel that different because I’m still involved in football a lot.
“And the only thing that will be different is my body will probably feel better at the end of August.”
In preparing for his first season as CBS’ lead football analyst, Romo has gone through what he has called a “boot camp,” calling games with in-season partner Jim Nantz as well as longtime Cowboys radio play-by-play man Brad Sham.
“When I took this job, I really didn’t know operationally how anything worked,” Romo said. “I just didn’t know like, ‘Where do you look during the game? Do you watch the field? Do you watch the television set? ‘And so with all these little things that you had to learn the nuances of it, some people can tell you, but I really just wanted to experience it and go through it.
And we just figured it out, and I give CBS credit for finding an avenue to make that happen. And we’ve done a great job with that in Dallas.”
One significant challenge a player-turned-broadcaster typically faces involves critiquing players, even former teammates.
“The first two games I did, actually some of my bosses there at CBS told me, ‘You know, we don’t need to be quite that harsh,’” Romo said. “So I think that part of it I probably have to find a fine line, because the standard for playing this game is just, it’s high. And to win and win a championship or to get there, I never got a chance to obtain that, and that’s something that I’ll always regret. But at the same time, I understand what it takes to be kind of good. Getting yourself in position to make the playoffs is hard, then to win games there. And to do it like how Tom Brady does is astronomical; [it] doesn’t compute to most of the players because you’re trying to win one…that’s the standard. It’s those players. The Tom Bradys, the Peyton Mannings. That’s what you’re evaluating. And now I have to understand that and come back to that and know that there’s certain things that are easier for some than others and just talk about it.”
Romo is one of the favorites at this weekend’s golf tournament. He has not played in the event since 2012, but he finished in the top five each year from 2009-12. With no more football to play, Romo has been able to work on his golf game. He did not advance in U.S. Open qualifying earlier in the spring, but he has played other tournaments, and will play in the Western Amateur next month.
As the summer goes on, he will be kept busy by his new job and the pressure that comes with it.
“They both have their unique traits,” Romo said of being a starting quarterback and the lead analyst. “But ‘pressure’ is a unique term, too, in the sense of it kind of is what you make it to be. I think when I was young in football, you were so nervous about trying to achieve this goal and be good at this thing you chased your whole life and all of a sudden it’s there in front of you, and those feelings — I don’t know if they’ll ever be duplicated in anything. But I’ve learned over the years, if you want to have a chance to be good, when you step up there, you gotta own it. … So I think I’m probably in a little bit more of a right frame of mind or mindset to be a little bit more successful earlier than I might have been in football. Now saying that, it might take me nine years to be decent, but I like to think it will take me a little bit less time in this.”