Lacking ‘It’

Tony Romo

It is official. Tony Romo is the ultimate tease.

He has the entire package, plays for the flashiest of flashy teams yet falls short of sealing the deal.

For his entire career, Tony Romo has dealt with the same old, same old – he can’t perform in the clutch. For a long time, a lot of the criticism that went Romo’s way seemed a bit too much. What is always hard for Romo is that because he dates Jessica Simpson, plays for Jerry Jones and likes to smile, people want him to fail.

Whether it is justified or not, like Lebron James in his first two seasons with Miami, fans and analysts will nitpick at anything they can find for a player they may dislike. Unlike Lebron, the disdain people have for Tony Romo the man, not the player, feels unjustified.

It is not easy being a Romo defender. I know because I’ve been doing it for quite a while now. As hot as he can get, his play will make you shiver more often than it should. I wouldn’t go as far to say that Tony Romo has the choke gene.

Rather, it is more that he doesn’t have the clutch gene.

Too frequently is the term clutch or choke thrust on a player. Most guys are probably somewhere in the middle while the odds of their big game circumstances have simply gone either in their favour or against them, prompting them to be labelled clutch or a choker.

Over the last two December’s, prior to last night’s game against the Redskins, Tony Romo had thrown 20 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. A choker doesn’t have the ability to bring his team from the depths of despair in big moments as often as Romo has. Even though his January record is virtually non-existent, he hasn’t faltered in some of the tougher situations throughout his career.

The thing is, it is as if it is in Romo’s DNA to make huge mistakes at huge moments.

Tony Romo had another John Elway type of opportunity on Sunday night with all eyes on him. Down 3 points, on his own 15 yard line, 3 minutes to go and a touchdown likely being enough put his team into the playoffs.

Simple, right?

Anyone can muff a hold on a field goal or throw a costly interception. But Tony Romo is a quarterback who, time after time, has let his team down with the kind of blunder that it is almost fitting for number 9.

That isn’t to say that Tony Romo can’t win a few playoff games or have one of those career defining drives in a championship game. If Romo ever does have a career defining drive, play or game, that moment should never be something that transforms his imperfect legacy into something that it does not deserve to be.

To a lesser degree, Peyton Manning lacks ‘it’. He doesn’t have what his brother has proven to have. Peyton won a Super Bowl MVP but it wasn’t a stellar performance by any means. Peyton Manning has become arguably the greatest quarterback of his generation not through his ability to be his best when everything is on the line but through his immense talent and smarts.

Tony Romo doesn’t have Peyton’s talent or smarts. Nevertheless, he can and has come up big in big situations because he has the elite talent that allows him to do spectacular things. However, he isn’t so good that he doesn’t suffer from a recurring case of major gaffe-itis.

Romo made the poorest of poor reads to give Rob Jackson a season killing interception. Despite the timing of the miscalculated floater, the interception wasn’t due to Tony Romo’s choking. That play was a microcosm of his career as Romo is a player who doesn’t have the capability to consistently step up when the stakes are highest.

It isn’t choke or clutch. It is who Tony Romo is.

Lebron James overcame his perceived choking propensity last season. There is nothing to say that Tony Romo can’t do the same.

What will never change with Tony Romo is that he doesn’t have what every athlete wished they had or chooses to believe they have.

‘It’.

Agree? Disagree? E-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

Also, you can follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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