Sunday’s AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Jaguars was the last CBS football broadcast of the 2017-18 NFL season, since Fox had the NFC Championship and NBC has the Super Bowl. This also means that Tony Romo’s rookie year in the booth has come to a close. Romo has probably been the most polarizing broadcaster in recent memory. For about the first half of the season, everybody was in love with his style of color commentating but the second half of the season, people grew tired of the act. As an aspiring broadcaster myself, I know everything, so I’m the perfect person to tell you how to think about how Romo did in the booth this season.
We’ll start with the positives. Romo’s enthusiasm is the biggest positive for me with how he does a game. There are so many color commentators who just lack energy in the booth and at times they can get monotonous and it often takes me out of the game. You don’t get that with Romo. He’s very into every play and in turn it gets me a little more excited with how the play went. I was also a big fan of him predicting plays, though I might be alone in that regard. The main reason I was such a fan was because it helped me learn how to spot things in certain offensive or defensive looks. I always felt that I learned something watching a Romo broadcast. His insight is second-to-none in my opinion. I don’t get much from color commentators just stating what happened. I can see what happened. Romo is able to talk about the philosophy of why certain plays work against certain formations and they’re things I try and take into account when I watch a game or play Madden. He’s also got a pleasant voice to listen to. It kind of sounds like a young kid is calling the game which kind of adds a certain charm to the broadcasts as opposed to the scruffy old guy voice you’ll often get. And I think he’s reasonably funny. Not gut-wrenching by any means, but enough so that I’ll grin at his attempts at humor. A lot of times broadcasters will be super cringeworthy when they try and crack jokes, but I think Romo’s sense of humor is solid.
Now to the part I’m sure you’re all itching for: the negatives. As big a fan as I am of Romo’s style, he can be a little much at times. He doesn’t let the game breathe with silence. It’s not like radio where dead air is the worst thing. Someone doesn’t always have to be talking during a TV broadcast. But Romo seems like he’s so uncomfortable with silence that he will find SOMETHING to say no matter how unimportant it might seem. Sometimes, it seems like he’s so scared to let silence happen that he will talk himself in circles until the ball is snapped and Jim Nantz is forced to take over. What I mean by “talk himself in circles” is that he’ll often end his point the way he started it like he was writing an essay where he basically repeats his thesis statement. He’ll start with something like “the wheel route is effective against this kind of defense, yada yada yada, and that’s why the wheel route is so effective.” I’m heavily paraphrasing here, but that’s the general gist of it. Even when he does get some silence in, you can kind of feel how tense he is about it. Silence in a broadcast always seems to be more uncomfortable with Romo than any other broadcaster. He also does this weird thing during replays where he makes these incomprehensible noises. Like when they’re reviewing whether a receiver got both feet in bounds, Romo will be like “Does he get his feet in? Yeeeeeee…ooooooooo….gaaaaaaaaah I dunno’ Jim.” Again, I love the enthusiasm he brings to the table, but that gets real old, real fast. It’d be one thing if he did it once but it’s seemingly every time there’s a close play and they look at it on replay.
So in conclusion, I think Romo is a talented broadcaster, but he’s got a lot to learn. He’s definitely an improvement over Phil Simms as Jim Nantz’s partner, I don’t think anybody’s denying that. But I think he was rushed into CBS’s prime spot a little too early. He’s pretty raw and has a lot to learn and improve on. I don’t think he’d be catching nearly as much heat as he does if he were on a team with Ian Eagle or the painfully boring Spero Dede (who I think could use a bit of Romo’s energy). The problem for CBS being, who would you replace Simms with? Because their options are Adam Archuleta, Dan Fouts, Trent Green, Rich Gannon, Steve Beurlein, and James Lofton. I may be biased because he went to Indiana, but I think Trent Green would probably be the best option if not Romo. But I think that CBS made a mistake putting Romo in with Nantz in his first season. But as far as talent in the booth goes, Tony Romo is as talented as they come. He’s just gotta work on a few things and he’ll have to learn them fast because CBS has the Super Bowl next year and I’d put all my money on CBS giving him and Nantz the job.
That’s going to do it for today’s blog, congratulations to the Patriots and Eagles on reaching Super Bowl LII, which is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, a 24-21 win for the Patriots. I’m going to have more stuff for the big game as the next couple of weeks go on. Let me know what you think of Tony Romo as a broadcaster in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.