New CBS lead NFL analyst — only the fifth the network ever has had — Tony Romo apparently didn’t have a formal audition for the job. But he did have an informal one.
As noted recently by Richard Deitsch of SI.com, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus became convinced Romo could do the job after meeting him at a Super Bowl XLIX party in Arizona. During the conversation, Romo provided 10 minutes of analysis regarding the upcoming game between the Patriots and Seahawks.
“I didn’t realize I would get an audition,” McManus said, via Deitsch. “I walked away from that conversation and said . . ., ‘Someday that man is going to be a lead analyst.'”
Someday was Tuesday, and in an offseason where Romo’s next football destination was believed to be one of the top storylines, his new job at CBS and the manner in which it all fell together has become nearly as big a story.
And for good reason. At FOX, Romo would have been sliding in to the spot vacated by John Lynch, with no one being supplanted and without the pressure and scrutiny of being in the center of the spotlight. At CBS, Romo has bumped Phil Simms to the curb, and in turn Romo has put himself in position to be criticized for anything and everything he says, by fans that don’t like the Cowboys to fans that don’t like him to fans that like Phil Simms to fans that don’t like the perception that people are getting things without paying the dues to people who like to see rich and famous people fail to fans who simply like to not like things.
The placement of Romo and the praise he has received will serve only to accentuate those feelings.
“What are the attributes that led us to believe Tony was perfect for this role?” McManus said, via Deitsch. “First of all he is remarkably articulate. Having had a lot of conversations with him and not just about football but about life, he has an uncanny way of expressing himself in an amazingly understandable way. He is passionate about the NFL and if you are not passionate about the NFL, you have no shot at being an NFL analyst. That passion will come through in his commentary and I think it is a really important part of what makes Tony Romo. He is very likeable and you can’t teach that. You are either likeable on television or not likeable on television and Tony both in person and on television is an incredibly likeable young man.”
It’s important for McManus to think those things, since he’s the guy who hires the analysts. But it’s also important for the fans to agree that Romo will meet those expectations.
No one will know whether he does until September 10, when Jim Nantz and Tony Romo get a high-profile game right out of the gates on the first Sunday afternoon of the regular season.