When it comes to NFL quarterbacks losing their starting jobs, it can often be like the ending of the Sopranos. You don’t see it coming, until the moment it all turns to black.
ESPN’s Dallas based reporter Jean-Jacques Taylor has penned an excellent “Oral History” of how Romo ascended improbably to the position of starter for the Cowboys – while entirely undrafted out of Eastern Illinois.
It’s a great story…. if you like sports. It has all the elements of work ethic, roster politics, meddling owners, strong minded coaches, and ultimately the element of good fortune and timing.
Here’s a few snippets to whet your appetite, but you should read the whole thing…
Larry Lacewell, Cowboys scouting director, 1992-2004: “I did not look at Tony in college until the day before the draft because he was a nobody.”
David Lee, Cowboys assistant coach, 2003-06: “Sean and I both evaluated him, and we put him in the fifth round to draft. I remember my report said it was like he had eight sets of eyes in his head, and he never saw the rush. I hated his release point; it was clearly side-armed.”
Larry Lacewell: “Parcells wanted to bring in one of his old guys: Testaverde. That was my falling-out. I met Parcells in a scouting room, and I said, ‘We don’t see it.’ Parcells said, ‘Well, don’t say anything to Jerry [Jones] about it,’ which is just about the time Jerry walked in the room and said, ‘What do you think?’ Parcells said, ‘God damn, I can coach him. I can bring him in here, and I know how to get the most out of him,’ blah, blah, blah. About that time, I said, ‘If you’re such a great quarterbacks coach, take one of these young guys and make him a great young quarterback.’ That about wrapped my deal up.”
Vinny Testaverde, Cowboys quarterback, 2004: “He took notes — he was very observant — asked the right questions and seemed like he was a student of the game at an early age in the NFL.”
Jerry Jones: “To make a change, it’s going to take an event. It could be poor play, it could be injury, but it’s going to take an event. Those things are real hard decisions to make just because of a preference, so to speak. Obviously, you had the energy weighing to his youth, and Tony’s career was ahead of him. You really need something to give you a better reason. Drew, as much as we thought about him, gave us the reason.”
Bill Parcells: “We were in the red zone, and we had a pattern directed to the right side only. We had a couple of options on the right side, and the third option was to throw the ball away. Drew decided to improvise on his own and decided to throw to Terry Glenn, and he wasn’t in the read at all and Sam Madison intercepted it.”
Drew Bledsoe, Cowboys quarterback, 2005-06: “Just no benefit to me in talking about it. If I told the truth …” [Bledsoe declined to comment further.]
Larry Lacewell: “The quarterback journey is a miserable son of a bitch. You’re miserable when you’re on that journey, and some of those teams have been on that journey forever and ain’t found one yet. I’ve always said we were luckier than s— to get Romo ’cause we ran through everybody else. Every baseball player, everybody.”