Tony Romo no longer is a rookie in the TV game, nearing the finish line of a second season in a second career during which he has received strongly positive reviews.
But the former Cowboys quarterback and current CBS analyst never has encountered anything like what he will face Feb. 3 in Atlanta: a domestic audience of more than 100 million viewers and many more worldwide.
“I don’t know really know how I’m going to feel until that day, but I think there’s always a little bit of nervousness before every game, whether you’re a player or an announcer,” he said at an event in Manhattan on Thursday to promote CBS’ coverage of the game.
“I think that’s good. I think that’s healthy. In some ways it makes you feel the importance. But I don’t know. I’d be guessing if I told you exactly what I’m going to feel beforehand. But I’m excited.”
Romo said he recently watched the three most recent Super Bowls to get a feel for what he liked and didn’t in how the three networks who take turns showing the game handled it.
Romo was an immediate hit when he succeeded Phil Simms alongside Jim Nantz last season, and he said there are a number of “little things” on which he improved in Year Two.
One thing he has not done is regret his decision to retire after the 2016 season, even though Sunday the 38-year-old will call a playoff game featuring quarterbacks who are around his age: Tom Brady, 41, of the Patriots and Philip Rivers, 37, of the Chargers.
“I think I’m more fulfilled than ever,” he said. “As time goes on I think you appreciate what you did in life, but you also appreciate that you kind of move on. At the time when it’s over, it’s like, ‘This is a big decision,’ and, ‘It’s a big thing,’ and then all of a sudden you move on and say, ‘It’s great.’
“I feel very fortunate, let’s say that, with where I’m at in life and I don’t really look back. I feel this is exactly where I should be, and I feel like I’m happy.”
Romo’s former tight end, Jason Witten, moved from the field to the ESPN booth this season and got mixed reviews, at best. Romo said he and Witten have talked TV during the season.
“Jason has just continually gotten better and better from the beginning of the year,” Romo said. “I think he’s excited about just the improvement and the direction he’s going. It’s all about just trying to get better at whatever you’re doing in life.”
Romo said one of the best pieces of advice he got was to try new things. He said producer Jim Rikhoff told him, “'You don’t have to be different or the same. We’re starting our own canvas.’ I think that was a real unique way of saying there’s no rules — other than our rules that we have, like, no swearing.”
Nantz said of Romo, “He’s not scripted. He doesn’t come out with an agenda to try to promote something. He just says what he feels.”