The Dallas Cowboys have been the center of attention for the league’s greatest quarterback controversy of the season, and it’s certainly a spot Tony Romo didn’t expect to be in coming into the season.
Rookie Dak Prescott has led the Cowboys to an 8-1 record while looking like one of the best teams in the NFL.
Tuesday afternoon, Romo broke his silence to the media on Prescott with a prepared statement.
“He’s earned the right to be our quarterback,” Romo said. “As hard as that is for me to say, he’s earned that right.
“To say the first half of the season has been emotional would be a huge understatement. Getting hurt when you feel like you have the best team you’ve ever had was a soul-crushing moment for me.”
Romo added, “You almost feel like an outsider. Coaches are sympathetic but they still have to coach and you're not there. It's a dark place. Probably the darkest it's ever been. You're sad and down and out and you ask yourself, ‘why did this have to happen?’”
Romo also recalled being in a similar position to what Prescott is in now.
“I was that kid once, stepping in and having to prove yourself,” Romo said. “If I remember one thing from back then, it’s the people that helped me when I was young, and if I can be that to Dak, I will be moving forward.”
He continued to keep the focus on the team, telling the media, "I'm not going to allow this situation to negatively affect Dak or this football team by becoming a constant distraction. I think Dak knows that I have his back. And I think I know that he has mine. Ultimately, it's about the team. It's what we've preached our entire lives."
To close out his statement, Romo had a message for high school and college players.
“There's greatness in being the kind of teammate that truly wants to be part of the team. Everyone wants to be the reason they're winning or losing. Every single one of us wants to be that person. But there are special moments that come from a shared commitment to play your role while doing it together,” Romo said.
“That's what you remember. Not your stats or your prestige. But the relationships and the achievement that you created through a group. It's hard to do but there's great joy in that. And all the while, your desire burns to be the best you've ever been. You can be both. I figured that out in this process.”
Romo did not take questions from the media.
After missing all but four games in 2015, Romo was hoping to make a full recovery this season and bring the Cowboys back to 2014 form, in which he led them to a 12-4 record, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, accumulating 3,705 yards, and 34 touchdowns against just nine interceptions.
That all came to a screeching halt when Romo suffered a fractured vertebra in the preseason against the Seattle Seahawks.
On Tuesday morning, Jerry Jones said that Prescott, “won’t be looking over his shoulder,” effectively making him the starter moving forward.
Sunday, Prescott helped lead the Cowboys to arguably their best win of the season on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Prescott, along with rookie running back sensation Ezekiel Elliott, have made for one of the best quarterback-running back duos in the NFL this season.
Romo has seemed happy with Prescott’s success. He was seen smiling on the sideline after Prescott hit Dez Bryant with a 50-yard touchdown pass against the Steelers. He also told Stephen Jones in the locker room after the game as Prescott walked by that, “"That ain't (blank) easy, and he's the man."
So far, the quarterback controversy has gone rather smoothly for the Cowboys.