While the Cowboys continue to hope for a Christmas miracle while playing coy with the Philadelphia Eagles regarding quarterback Tony Romo’s playing status, to me this much is clear:
- He won’t play in Sunday night’s NFC East Championship Game.
- His absence greatly diminishes the Cowboys’ chances of making the playoffs.
Both of those statements seem obvious to me, but others remain stubbornly foggy to the ideas. Example: Less than 10 minutes after news of Romo’s back injury broke on Monday there were Romo critics claiming it was a positive for the Cowboys and football “fans” clamoring for emergency saviors like ... Tim Tebow. Swear.
Try this on for size: Since 2006 the Cowboys are 64-48 with Romo as their starting quarterback and 6-7 without him. This season he’s thrown for almost 4,000 yards with 31 touchdowns, only 10 interceptions and one gutsy, miraculous rally against the Washington Redskins.
A savvy football follower can’t possibly believe Kyle Orton gives the Cowboys a better chance to beat the Eagles than Romo. I’ve said all along that Orton could step in and win the Cowboys a game. Just not this game. Not the game with the playoffs on the line.
The Cowboys, almost defiantly, refuse to rule Romo out for Sunday’s game, much less for the rest of the season. But NFL insiders like ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen and Fox’s Jay Glazer say they have it confirmed that Romo has a herniated disc in his back that will require surgery.
Once upon a time 20 years ago I covered this exact injury – the one suffered by Cowboys’ quarterback Troy Aikman. After being named MVP of Super Bowl XXVII in January, he was lifting weights the following May and felt something pop in his back. He was sore and in discomfort, but continued his off-season conditioning until the pain increased to where he could barely put his pants on. An MRI revealed the slipped disc and Aikman went to Los Angeles where neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Watkins removed a 1-inch sliver of disc from his spine.
Aikman had the surgery in June, but recovered in time to play in the Cowboys’ season-opening in September. And he told me that if he'd suffered the injury during the season he wouldn't have played in a game because of risk of "serious, permanent injury."
If Romo’s injury is indeed similar, you won’t see him on the field Sunday. And, unfortunately, you won’t see the Cowboys in the playoffs in January.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.