It was halftime of a tough NFC East game against the New York Giants on October 23, 2006 and Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells couldn’t stomach another Drew Bledsoe interception. He turned to his unknown backup, a cat named Tony Romo, who had everybody asking if he’s the son of the guy who owns the steakhouse.
The football world soon came to find out that he was into making mincemeat of defenses, but chain restaurant owner was not his forte.
For 10 years Romo has lived the American Dream. As QB of the Dallas Cowboys, he’s won a ton of games, put up some prolific stats, dated the unattainable beauties of our generation and ran the gamut from comeback kid to playoff poop artist in dramatic fashion.
The criticisms, the injuries (among them a broken collarbone in 2010 and punctured lung, a cracked rib in 2011 and transverse process back fracture in 2014 ) and the unfathomably painful moments of coming up short -- none deterred him from suiting up, throwing on that helmet with the Texas star emblem and giving the most ferocious NFL defenses more work than Rihanna in Barbados during Carnival.
Now, with Romo on the sidelines with another devastating back injury, the 36-year-old QB out of Eastern Illinois in his 14th NFL season has to watch America's Team survive without him once again. Romo played in just four games in 2015, when he twice broke his collarbone and the Cowboys sputtered to a 4-12 campaign. Dallas has tried several times over the past decade and haven’t found a suitable replacement.
Dak Prescott not only made a name for himself in the preseason, but he’s making it easier for Jerry Jones and Co. to transition into life without their franchise QB.
With Romo out at least 6-10 weeks, the New York Giants will usher in what former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez calls “The Dak and Dez Show,” on September 11th at AT&T Stadium.
(Photo Credit: thelandryhat.com)
"It’s time...If Dak can continue to do what he’s done in the preseason then I don’t know if Tony Romo ever gets that job back when he returns from his back injury," Tony Gonzalez, a 14x Pro Bowl tight end told The Shadow League. "It would be tough for him to get that job back, even though he’s such a good football player, because Dak looked sharp and from a poise standpoint, he was making veteran-type throws, veteran decisions. He knew when not to throw it or throw it in the ground. He knew to slide when he was supposed too.”
In three preseason games, Prescott has completed 39 of 50 passes (78 percent) for 454 yards, five touchdowns and no picks. His chemistry with Bryant was evident as the two connected on a back shoulder grab for a TD to cap an 11-play drive in his first preseason start.
Everyone agrees Prescott has proved his gridiron grit, but some are not as convinced as Gonzalez about Dak Da Dangerous’ long-term dopeness.
“I think he can do an adequate job,” CBS football analyst Phil Simms, a two-time Super Bowl slinging QB told TSL. “It is true that the preseason is one thing and the regular season is another, so can he be Tony Romo right away? No, of course not! He’s playing in circumstances himself that he hasn’t seen before. I watched him a lot and studied him very hard coming out in the draft. I liked him. He got hit more at Mississippi State than any other quarterback in the country and I just remember the first thing I wrote down was “tough SOB” because he was really under pressure and taking hits to the legs and everything."
Simms says the tumultuous NFL learning curve will still apply, but Dak has a shot to make this rookie season a positive step in his accelerated pro development.
"He also played in somewhat of a pro style offense," Simms added, "but hasn’t faced defenses and schemes like this. I’m impressed at how he’s playing under pressure and conditions that are foreign to him, but he’s showing...Can he continue like this? No, but he’s definitely physically more than adequate to do the job. I will be surprised if he doesn’t play pretty solid to maybe very good football."
Prescott is used to capitalizing on another's misfortune and seizing the moment. The strong-armed, funky-footed QB came off the bench at Mississippi State as a sophomore after starter Tyler Russell suffered a concussion, and Prescott never relinquished the job as he became a dual-threat beast and was named MVP of the 2013 Liberty Bowl.
A multi-faceted Heisman front-runner early in his senior season, the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder was the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback from 2013–2015, and holds all school passing records. Despite his college success, Prescott was selected in the fourth round, 135th overall by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL Draft.
He was expected to sit behind Romo and learn, but the 23-year-old’s preseason poise and Romo’s broken back has thrust the unheralded QB into the most coveted and scrutinized position in American football; quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.
Prescott will either take this opportunity and go off like Biz Markie or fake the funk like Main Source. Kind of reminds you of another guy -- a third round pick by the Seahawks in 2012 -- who became an unlikely superstar.
“He reminds me a little bit of Russell Wilson,” Gonzalez told TSL. “When he was having his big preseason and nobody thought it would carry into the regular season, but he went on to make it to back-to-back Super Bowls. Right now Prescott's my front runner for Rookie of the Year.”