Tony Romo has an interesting Super Bowl LIII prediction

In the past week, Tony Romo has been asked to predict everything from lottery numbers to draft picks to who will win next year’s Super Bowl. That’s what happens when you are part of the broadcast team for one of the highest-rated football games of the season like the AFC title game was and spend the fourth quarter calling plays before they happen. Being, as play-by-play partner Jim Nantz called him, Romo-stradamus.

On Tuesday, Romo rolled his eyes at most of the suggestions about his clairvoyance. He called it a “novelty act” and insisted that he just “gets lucky once in a while.”

But he did have an interesting prediction for Sunday’s game, which he will call for CBS. He said the final score will be 28-24, and that the losing team will have the ball at the end but fail to get in the end zone.

Romo’s analysis has sparked plenty of conversations about his future as a coach rather than a broadcaster. That’s one thing he doesn’t see in his immediate future. He said he’d rather be spending time with his three sons at this point in his life than grinding through an NFL season.

On Monday, Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (and former head coach of the Cowboys) said he’d like to have Romo in his headset to let him know what the Patriots are about to do on Sunday.

“That’s probably not a good idea,” Romo said.

And as for the clamor from Cowboys fans that he become their next offensive coordinator?

TV personality and former NFL player Tony Romo walks through...

TV personality and former NFL player Tony Romo walks through the tunnel before the AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots at Arrowhead Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.  Credit: Getty Images/Ronald Martinez

“Well, they’ll have to wait,” Romo said. “I’m sure one day I’ll coach, just right now. I’m happy where I’m at and I’m enjoying it.”

— Tom Rock

Tony Romo disappointed he never got to play in a Super Bowl

The biggest challenge for Tony Romo in calling his first Super Bowl on Sunday may be that it will be his first Super Bowl. The former quarterback turned play-predicting savant played in plenty of big games when he was with the Cowboys, but he never reached this ultimate pinnacle of the sport.

“I never got there,” he sighed on Tuesday at press conference for CBS, which will air the game. “That’s one of the biggest disappointments that I wasn’t able to do that. You work hard, you try, but it’s something you have to live with.”

As such, Sunday will be the first network broadcast of a Super Bowl without anyone in the booth who had been on the field for an NFL championship game since Bob Trumpy was the analyst with Dick Enberg for Super Bowl XXXVIII in 1994.

What are the challenges of trying to capture and describe emotions and pressures that Romo himself never experienced?

“I guess we’ll find out,” Romo said. “It’s all hypothetical. I don’t know.”

Romo said that getting to the Super Bowl this way, as a broadcaster, does not fulfill his dreams of wanting to do it as a player. But, he insisted, it’s still pretty cool.

“It’s just a different life,” Romo said. “You just move on. You’re disappointed. I don’t look back on it, you just kind of move on to the next step and try to make that as great as it can possibly be. And then when you’ve done with that, you try to be as good as you can possibly be at the next thing. You go on, you just keep doing it.”

— Tom Rock

Celebrate good times

Tony Romo retired after the 2016 season, thus missing an era in which the NFL greatly relaxed rules regarding end zone celebrations. In 2018, choreographed celebrations, including mock team photos, extended beyond touchdowns to include interceptions and other big plays.

When asked recently whether such antics are good for the NFL, the former Cowboys quarterback and current CBS analyst said, “I do think it's been good for the league. I think anything that gets players together in celebration is a good thing. It's kind of neat to see, you know, all 11 guys on offense, or a bunch of them, get together and create stuff.

“I was really, like, if my 7-year-old likes it and thinks it's fun and looks good, I feel like, then, it's a good thing.”

Regrets, Romo has a few. “When they decided to change it, I was a little disappointed, because I'm a fantastic dancer. And so I was a little disappointed that I didn't get a chance to do a lot of this stuff.”

Might the players have something special planned for the Super Bowl? “I think they're going to be concentrated on the game and be a little bit more in tune with that,” Romo said. “But I'm sure they'll throw something out.”

— Neil Best

Recruiting Romo

This will be CBS analyst Tony Romo’s first Super Bowl as a player or announcer, but the seeds were planted at a couple of Super Bowl-week encounters earlier this decade.

The first came before Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona in 2015, when CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus spoke to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Romo, then still an active player for Jones, at a party and was wowed by Romo’s analysis of the Patriots-Seahawks matchup.

The second came before Super Bowl LI in Houston in 2017, when Romo still had not decided whether to retire as a player and met with McManus, CBS Sports president David Berson and then-CBS CEO Les Moonves.

“It was just a unique time, I guess,” Romo said. “We were starting to think about what you're going to do going forward. And then talking to them, the excitement from both sides, me, them and just it's an exciting time any time you're at the Super Bowl, especially when you feel like people want you to do something . . . I think when you're in that meeting and it feels comfortable and you're excited and it just gets you ready to make the leap I guess.”

Said McManus, “After the meeting, the three of us, after Tony left, in the little private room we were in in the restaurant, I turned to David and to (Moonves) and said, ‘That's our guy. We’ve got to get this guy.’ Having listened to him talk about football and have him answer our questions, I was convinced after that meeting that Tony was the guy we wanted in the booth next to Jim Nantz.”

— Neil Best

Positive reviews

Tony Romo is not much of a Twitter user, but after receiving several screenshots of tweets after the AFC Championship Game — many marveling at his apparent ability to predict plays — the CBS analyst did some scrolling.

“It makes you laugh and you have fun with it, so you go check it out for 10 minutes,” he said Wednesday on a call to promote CBS’ coverage of Super Bowl LIII. “It felt nice that people were excited that you did a decent job.”

Romo took particular note of a tweet from baseball free agent Bryce Harper, who asked Romo to tell him where he would sign. Romo, who lives in Texas, responded by predicting Harper would sign with the Rangers.

So it went for more than an hour, with Romo and his colleagues fielding more questions from reporters about Romo’s work during the Patriots’ victory over the Chiefs than about the Super Bowl.

Romo said he was happy that the larger CBS effort was getting recognized. One thing he would not predict is whether he would offer many predictions on Feb. 3. Such things must come naturally, he insisted.

“I probably did it a little bit more last game than I had previous ones, just because you felt like the moment is big and you just start talking in moments that are important,” he said. “You don’t analyze it and come up with a plan for it. Your natural instincts take over.”

Romo said he tries not to predetermine his approach. “I think sometimes it just happens and once in a blue moon you might get lucky and say something right,” he said.

Jim Nantz, Romo’s play-by-play partner, sought to downplay the idea that Romo’s is doing some sort of parlor trick. He said it is the result of hard work and experience.

“He and Tom Brady are seeing the same thing,” Nantz said. “People think Tony’s a fortune teller, but this isn’t guesswork and this isn’t psychic ability. This is a testament to a guy that obviously spent a lot of time in his career figuring it out, and Tom Brady has, too.

“That’s why Tony saw those same things. My partner had to have been, in his Cowboy days and remains so to this day, some sort of sick film-room guru that took the time that was needed to completely solve the puzzle . . . He’s not guessing. He’s not getting some sort of message from the gods. He’s seeing what Brady saw.”

— Neil Best

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