Plenty of athletes play golf, but few play it well enough to get called "a hell of a golfer" by no less than Tiger Woods. Tony Romo does, however; he's spent many of his recent summers trying to qualify for the U.S. Open, and he has little trouble finding his way to the top of pro-am leaderboards.
Of course, Romo has another job, one where his employer has just doubled down on him and signed him to a six-year, $108 million contract extension. And with that contract comes the likelihood that Romo will spend more time on the turf and less on the green.
Tucked away in an ESPNDallas report is this tidbit: Romo has declined to play in several pro and amateur tournaments, and will not try to qualify for the PGA Tour's HP Byron Nelson Championship or the U.S. Open. It's impossible to read this and think it doesn't have something to do with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' recent pronouncement that he'll expect much more out of Romo now that the ink on the contract has dried.
“Tony is going to have more time, more presence, not only in the offseason but when the season starts, beginning Monday, assuming we played Sundays," Jones told the Dallas Morning News last week. "He’s going to have more time on the job. A part of what we agreed with was extra time on the job, beyond the norm. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t have a lot of time on the job, but extra time on the job, Peyton Manning-type time on the job."
Romo's career to date has been a study in could-have-been. In his eight seasons, Romo has taken the Cowboys to just three postseasons, with a 1-3 record. Dallas has won exactly one playoff game in the last 16 seasons. Any owner this side of Dan Snyder would expect a better return on his investment than that.
Romo has been a solid regular-season quarterback, but he's playing in the quarterback-rich NFC. Russell Wilson has matched him and Colin Kaepernick has passed him in postseason wins, and he'll need to fight through Robert Griffin III and Eli Manning in his own division, with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers waiting at the far end. That would be a tough gauntlet to run for even a future Hall of Famer like Manning.
There is, of course, the question of whether one can learn motivation, especially one who's just signed a nine-figure contract that will set up his great-grandchildren for life. And Manning is as close as we've got to a football Mozart, a genius who not only knows more than everyone around him but works harder than everyone around him, too. Check out, for instance, this story about Manning recalling every detail of a college play from 17 years ago. That's not the kind of mindset you can teach, or if it is, you need to be taught it at age 3, not age 33.
And, to be fair to Romo, just being at work doesn't necessarily translate to increased productivity. (How much work are you getting done right now if you're reading this at your place of employment, hmmm?) Work smarter, not harder, that kind of thing. Romo has plenty of time to rewrite his legacy. But it seems that how he fills that time isn't entirely up to him anymore.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-