Sean McManus admitted he was concerned about how social media would react to his newest star, not because he was worried about Tony Romo’s performance but because he knows the nature of social media reviews.
Not to worry. Romo’s debut as CBS’ lead NFL analyst on the Raiders-Titans game on Sunday widely was praised by both fans and professional critics.
“I was pleasantly surprised, because social media by and large is very negative, for everybody, for all announcers and all networks,” the CBS Sports chairman said after Romo’s game. “The fact that it was positive is satisfying for me, but I also take it with a grain of salt.”
Still, he added, “It’s certainly better to have positive reviews than negative reviews.”
Romo’s performance is a sensitive topic for CBS, given the importance of the NFL as a property and the risk it took in giving a TV novice such as Romo its top analyst job — and having him replace a longtime presence such as Phil Simms, who took his share of social media abuse.
The network and Romo himself have been careful for months to downplay expectations and emphasize publicly that he will be a work in progress.
McManus reiterated that on Sunday, saying the No. 1 broadcast team, with Romo alongside play-by-play man Jim Nantz, “has to keep getting better. But he cited a number of football points Romo made and the ease with which he made them in the 10-to-15-second bites the job requires.”
McManus would not describe Romo’s mood before the telecast as “nervous,” but he did say Romo “certainly was cognizant of all the pressure he was under.”
Next up: the Patriots against the Saints next Sunday.
For now, McManus enjoyed a rarity for a TV executive: not having to cringe at social media posts. “I’m in an alternate universe,” he said. “It’s very satisfying.”