After months of silence, Tony Romo finally spoke to reporters Tuesday at the Cowboys’ OTA in Valley Ranch.
The two-time Pro Bowler spoke on receivers, both past (T.O.) and present (Roy Williams), the team’s expectations and a shift in mindset that could well be a key ingredient in the team winning its first playoff game in over a decade.
For the most part, though, Romo’s remarks are about as you’d expect.
"I think it’s just another year," he said when asked if he felt more pressure in the absence of Terrell Owens.
When asked how the Cowboys might replace the mammoth production of No. 81, Romo said, "It’s going to figure itself out."
On Roy Williams, Romo remarked, "He’s worked real hard this off-season…I'm excited to see him keep progressing and see where this can go."
These open-ended answers are the stuff of publicists’ dreams and sportswriters’ nightmares. Romo is deft at the cat-and-mouse game that is modern sports journalism.
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But his statement on the team’s mindset moving into the season, if it is in fact true, should come as music to the beleaguered Cowboys’ fans ears.
"Our approach is a little different in that we are going to be better today," Romo said. "All we can do is control today. That's what the Dallas Cowboys are going forward now on. We aren't going to sit here and talk about what's tomorrow and those things. All we can control is right now, and that's what this team is doing."
This is both expected, given the circumstances, and a wild aberrance from the team’s stance in past years. It seemed that, anointed as NFC Champions before training camp began each of the past two seasons, Dallas was putting the horse in front of the cart, in the truest sense of the phrase.
What followed, whether gradual (2007) or sudden (2008), was a team crumbling under the weight of its own bloated expectations, its own sense of entitlement. No one doubted the team, and, at least to some degree, the team ceased doubting itself.
And NFL teams, players, coaches, need that doubt, to some degree; not on Sunday, of course, when doubt can be a pernicious debilitation, but every other day of the week, retroactive to the very first day of camp. It is the great motivator (besides, of course, money) in the NFL. No professional athlete will ever admit this, but it is patently true.
Going into 2009, Dallas is hearing doubtful tones from every where, fans near and far, media both local and national.
Hopefully, they are listening.