Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo gave his first public comments since being relegated to the bench behind rookie sensation Dak Prescott, and he surprised everyone by turning a routine statement into a beautiful display of honesty, humility, and self-sacrifice – the likes of which not often seen from todays self-absorbed, entitled athletes.
Prescott has played near flawlessly, leading the Cowboys to an 8-1 record and #1 on the NFL power ranking list.
Instead of creating controversy by grumbling and complaining, Romo praised Prescott’s fine play and essentially gave his seal of approval to the young rising star, saying he’s “earned the right to be our quarterback.” But Romo took it a step further, baring his soul and showing a vulnerability not often seen from athletes of his caliber.
“To say the first half of the season has been emotional, would be a huge understatement. Getting hurt when you feel like the best team you’ve ever had was soul crushing moment for me,” he said.
Romo explained how he felt a ‘tremendous amount of guilt’ for letting his teammates down, but once they were succeeding without him, guilt turned into reflection and the realization that he’s in the twilight of his career
“Seasons are fleeting. Games become more precious. Chances for success diminish. Your potential successor has arrived. Injured 2 years in a row. You’re in your mid 30’s. The press is whispering. Everyone has doubts… it’s a dark place, probably the darkest it’s ever been. You’re sad and down and out, you ask yourself why did this have to happen? It’s in this moment you find out who you are and what you’re really about.”
He continued: “You see football is a meritocracy. You aren’t handed anything. You earn everything every single day, over and over again. A great example of this is Dak Prescott. He’s earned the right to be our quarterback. As hard as that is for me to say, he’s earned that right.”
This statement should put many of the young, arrogant, brash, self-absorbed NFL stars on notice – this is how they are supposed to behave. This is what real leadership looks like. That’s what real manhood looks like. The willingness to say the right thing for the team, and the courage to admit feeling disappointed even though the team is successful. With that simple act of vulnerability, humility, and honesty – his teammates will not be wondering, there will be no whispering, no second guessing in that clubhouse. They can rally around their captain, encourage him in his struggle, and come together as a team.
Romo closed with this thought about what he’s learned during his time off the field:
“I feel like we all have two battles. Two enemies going on. One with the man across from you, and the second with the man inside of you. I think once you control the one inside of you, the one across from you really doesn’t matter. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do.”
The fate of the Cowboys and Romo for the rest of the season is unclear, but one thing is for certain: Romo just gained a lot of fans.
And this writer (a Redskins fan) will be showing his young children this video, as it’s a valuable lesson in how to conduct oneself in the midst of adversity.
Well done, Romo. Well done.