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All in the family

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HONOLULU – Ramiro Romo is talking about his son Tony maintaining perspective through all the cresting and crashing waves of success and failure that occurred last season in Dallas.

As he talks, a reporter points to the posh resort hotel that towers over the elder Romo to his left, the spa on his right and the state-of-the-art, pre-release oversized driver he's holding in his right hand. The club was a gift to his son only moments before the elder Romo and the reporter struck up a conversation. All of that is wrapped in the sound of the Pacific Ocean hitting the shore roughly 100 yards away.

Romo, who underwent a meteoric rise from backup to starting quarterback, has spent this week preparing for the Pro Bowl on Saturday and trying to forget the disappointment of his botched hold that cost Dallas a possible victory at Seattle in the playoffs.

All the while, he's trying to figure out what the future holds as the Cowboys bring in coach Wade Phillips to replace Bill Parcells. He also has a new offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett.

And that's to say nothing of the fact that one of his teammates is wide receiver Terrell Owens.

"Yeah, there's a lot going on," Romo said. "But at the end of the day, it's still about football. You have to throw it and catch it. If you can do that, it's going to be OK."

Romo said that as he headed for a 30-minute shoot with Nickelodeon, his fourth post-practice interview in less than an hour after practice. If ever someone needed to keep their head straight, now is the time. But now may never be so difficult.

"It's not easy, but we do a pretty good job in our family of keeping everybody on board," Ramiro Romo said. "We do a family roundtable every once in a while where everybody gets a chance to speak their mind. Nobody gets spared."

That's literally true. The Romos still live in Burlington, Wis., about 40 miles south of Milwaukee, where the freezing temperatures are enough to sober anyone.

But last month, when the family gathered after the Cowboys' loss in the playoffs, Tony got zinged pretty good by older sister Danielle. He was still feeling the pain of the botched snap. At a certain point, big sis had heard enough.

"She said to Tony, 'Get off the cross, we need the wood,'" Ramiro Romo said. In other words, suck up the pain and the embarrassment, it's time to move on.

"Yeah, she was pretty straight-forward about it," Romo said, flashing an understanding grin. Sure, he may be big stuff in the sports world these days, but he's still the little brother of the family.

That type of simplified perspective may be the key to Romo ultimately succeeding in a head-spinning span of four-plus months. In October, the undrafted Romo, who had never played a down in a real game, replaced veteran Drew Bledsoe as the starter for the Cowboys. He posted a 95.1 rating for the rest of the season and guided the Cowboys to the playoffs.

Blessed with good looks, Romo also became a celebrity, linked with the likes of Jessica Simpson and Carrie Underwood. He has quickly learned the ups and downs of that part of his life.

When he was asked this week to say who would be the leading lady in a movie about his life, he politely sidestepped the question.

"Every time I mention someone like that, things get out of control," Romo said.

Likewise, the season got away from Romo and the Cowboys over the final two games, costing the team a division title and then knocking it out of the playoffs. Romo came up short on a run in the season finale as Dallas suffered an embarrassing loss to Detroit. Then there was the botched snap on a potential game-winning field goal at the end of the Seattle game.

Those plays aren't necessarily the kind that question Romo’s athletic ability. He's still blessed with a solid combination of running ability and passing skill, fitting nicely with the straight-ahead running game the Cowboys have built.

Still, the key is often more about what's in someone's head rather than how accurately they can throw a pass.

"You have to keep everything on an even keel and really take it one day at a time," Ramiro Romo said, using one of many clichés that he takes to heart. "You really have to understand that in sports. It's a great thing all the stuff that you see around you right now. But all this stuff can be gone in a day and you still have to be who you are."

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