Lost in the questions of whether Tony Romo will return to football and whether Phil Simms will return to work for CBS is the most important question for both Romo and CBS: Will their newest employee be any good?
With CBS winning a bidding war with FOX (and possibly NBC) for Romo’s services, it’s possible that certain details were overlooked. Like, you know, whether Romo can do the job.
After all, CBS put Mike Carey on the air, and he clearly couldn’t do the job. Who’s to say Romo will be any better at something he’s never done?
It’s not easy. And the hardest part of the job is making it look easy by providing a smooth, confident, and authoritative delivery of a script that is concocted extemporaneously in a 10-15 second window. Get in, be good, get out. Over and over again. And anything you say can and will be used against you on social media,
Joe Montana failed badly in the somewhat (if not considerably) easier job of providing studio analysis, where the action is less frenetic and more time is available for making a point. Presumably, much more was expected from the guy who earned over and over again the on-field moniker of “Joe Cool.”
Current CBS studio analyst Boomer Esiason has done both game broadcasts and studio analysis, and he has some advice for his newest colleague.
“It’ll be a trial by fire,” Esiason told Peter King of TheMMQB.com. “It’s dangerous, I guess my first reaction is: If I only knew then what I know now. . . . Jim Nantz will be really good for Tony. He knows how to make a guy in the booth feel comfortable, and he knows they’ll be highly scrutinized.
“One thing I would say is, try not to be all things to all people. I just overkilled the first year. I read so much, prepared so much. Have fun. Don’t think you know more about football than everybody you’re talking to. . . . Social media will be a killer. The slings and arrows, you won’t know where they’re coming from. But they’re coming. It’s Twitter muscle. Alcohol Twitter muscle. But it’s just like being a quarterback. We’re used to criticism. We know we’re going to take shots. It’s part of the job. He has to know that going in. . . . I hope he can criticize a play call. He has to do that.”
The challenge when criticizing a play call will be to find a way to do it fairly and persuasively, with a skin thick enough to realize that anything remotely negative he says about any team will trigger a knee-jerk conclusion from fans that he “hates” that team. Still, it’s always better to say something than to say nothing.
As MDS pointed out on Wednesday’s PFT Live, Romo had a chance to say something about where the Texans should turn at quarterback now that he’s off the market. Romo instead said nothing.
While he can get away with that in April, he’ll have no choice but to quickly conjure just-right-porridge takes on a big platform for 17 Sundays and several Thursdays, starting on September 10. If he’s not good, he’ll know it, he’ll hear it, and he’ll grow to quickly hate the job. Based on Romo’s decision to walk away from football while he still can play, he likely possesses the kind of self-awareness that would prompt him, like Joe Montana did two decades ago, to exit TV after only one year.
Which is the biggest reason why he wanted to be released by the Cowboys. If the TV doesn’t work out, Romo will be able to return to football, picking his team unfettered by the Cowboys or any other team.