Tony Romo will be in Nashville on Sept. 10, talking on CBS about the Raiders-Titans game. But he at least considered an alternative path that might have landed him in Buffalo that afternoon, quarterbacking the Jets against the Bills.
“I took a look at them,” he said Wednesday in Manhattan during CBS’ annual pre-NFL media lunch. “I’m not going to say if they were in the final four [options], but I took a look.”
Romo was smiling as he spoke, seemingly secure in his decision to bypass the Jets and every other team he thought about joining before opting to succeed Phil Simms as CBS’ lead analyst alongside Jim Nantz.
At least in the short term, he chose the less-comfortable path, because after eight practice games — five in a studio, three in person, none on the air — he is leaping into the deep end of the sports television business.
CBS understands that and has sought to manage expectations. Romo’s boss, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, repeated Wednesday what he has said since April — that this will be “very much a work in progress.”
McManus said Romo has “all the abilities you need to be a good analyst,” then added, “He’s going to be better in Week 6 than he was in Week 1 and better in Year 2 than he was in Year 1.”
For now, Romo simply is pleased that he feels far more prepared than when he first practiced with Nantz in mid-May in a Manhattan studio, calling a game from last Thanksgiving.
He said he has been too busy preparing to think deep thoughts, such as about not being in training camp after 14 seasons with the Cowboys, and not being with them for their Sept. 10 opener against the Giants.
“I’ve been putting so much time into this, so you don’t have time to miss playing or thinking about that,” he said. “You’re more excited about trying to become great at this craft.”
Romo feels a sense of responsibility “following one of the greats in Phil Simms . . . You want to come in and do a good job, because everyone before me has really been at a very high standard and level.”
Simms reiterated on Wednesday that he was and is not offended by being moved to “The NFL Today” studio show — “I love it!” — and has spoken to Romo about his old job.
One of Romo’s questions for Simms was whether calling games on television gets old over time, or whether it is like playing the game, which he said never felt that way to him.
Romo recalled Simms answering, “It never gets old; you’re always going get excited. The butterflies are always going to be there. The rush, the adrenaline, everything.”
Said Romo, “Just talking to him, it got me even more amped-up. I genuinely feel lucky to be in this position. You want to be good at it. You want to take advantage of it. Hopefully, I have a chance to be good at it one day.”
Romo said he has felt no awkwardness between him and Simms.
“By the time I had come into the discussion they had already mapped out that he wasn’t coming back for the lead analyst role,” Romo said, adding, “I hope I have half the career as a lead analyst that Phil did. You don’t do it that long without being really, really special.”
CBS primarily carries AFC games, but later in the season Romo will get to work a Cowboys game. He said he and owner Jerry Jones remain on good terms after a season in which Romo was replaced by rookie Dak Prescott as Dallas went 13-3.
“Ultimately we all want ourselves to be good, but when you’re put in that position can you really make it about the team?” he said. “That was the goal and that’s what I tried to do . . . It was a great team to be a part of.”