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Lies, Damn Lies and Tony Romo's Statistics

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For a guy who plays the most visible position on the football field, Tony Romo's actual quarterbacking skills are the subject of a lot less discussion than just about everything else in his life. His relationships with receivers, buxom blondes and Jason Witten get broken down with the kind of scrutiny that's usually reserved for the way that quarterbacks throw the 17-yard out pattern.

    Kerry Byrne, writing for SI.com, cuts through the pop culture side of Romo to try and paint a picture of him as a quarterback. The painting he comes up with is worthy of a spot at the Louvre. Romo is currently number two all-time in passer rating, behind only Peyton Manning, and third on the historical list when it comes to yards per attempt. Romo is the active leader in that metric, and Byrne also points out that he's got the third-best winning percentage among current quarterbacks.

    All in all, it seems like a pretty impressive argument against every Romo doubter that ever popped up in a sports bar. Problem is, football isn't baseball. All the statistics can tell you is that Romo isn't a bad quarterback, which is the answer to an argument that no one with any sense was making in the first place. 

    The passer rating ranking, for example, becomes a lot less impressive when you realize that Chad Penningon, Daunte Culpepper and Marc Bulger are also in the top 20 all-time while Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, to name two Cowboy quarterbacks that you'd take over any of those three in a heartbeat, are further down the list.

    Yards per attempt plays out pretty much the same way, probably because both stats are slanted in favor of the modern game with its protections against hitting quarterbacks and prohibition on downfield contact. Not that it matters, since winning percentage is the most telling stat anyway. The two guys ahead of Romo are Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, whose fingers sparkle a lot more when they wave at people in restaurants and whose names are beneath Romo's on the other two lists.

    Staubach, Aikman, Brady, Roethlisberger and Romo. Which one of these things is not like the other? 

    In the end, the statistical argument works about as well as promoting an airline's food, in-flight movies and leg space while trying to ignore the fact that they crash 72 percent of the time. Ultimately, the only thing people care about when they're flying is that they arrive safely.

    Ultimately, the only thing people care about when they're talking about quarterbacks is winning in the playoffs. Record books may count Romo among the best quarterbacks because of his statistics, but history books will barely mention him unless he gets the victories his resume lacks.