CBS' Jim Nantz calls out Tony Romo critics for 'misinformation' and 'agenda'

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is no stranger to criticism. Since becoming CBS' top NFL analyst in 2017, he has gone from being applauded for his unique presence in the booth to being disparaged for it.

With reports and complaints about Romo's weaknesses reaching a peak toward the end of last season, his on-air partner Jim Nantz decided to speak out.

“I think there was a little bit of a misinformation attempt there to portray him in a not-so-favorable light,” Nantz said on the "SI Media with Jimmy Traina" podcast. “It was very disappointing. It really got, to me, more steam after the AFC championship game, which was our last game. And for the life of me, I didn’t understand it. . . . Where was all this outcry during the season? It’s not like we were invisible.”

Toward the end of the season, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post outlined an offseason “intervention” that CBS conducted with Romo to better his broadcast skills.

"Tony Romo needs to study more," Marchand said in February. "He needs to be better prepared. As you move away from the sidelines, you need to do more work. I know CBS is aware of this. They tried an intervention last offseason. They knew, they anticipated this. That's a credit to them, the people in charge there. But it has not gotten better."

In what appears to be the "misinformation" Nantz cited, that claim was later denied by CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus.

FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2017, file photo, Tony Romo and Jim Nantz work in the broadcast booth before an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Cincinnati Bengals in Green Bay, Wis. Nantz and Romo were inseparable when CBS broadcast the Super Bowl two years ago. Next week, they won't see each other until they are in the broadcast booth a couple hours prior to kickoff. Keeping announcers separated until game day has been standard practice this season due to the Coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
Tony Romo and Jim Nantz are apparently friends beyond their work in the broadcast booth. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

Marchand also claimed the "biggest issue" was that Nantz and Romo didn't seem to work well together.

“They’re not on the same [page], it sounds like they’re doing two different broadcasts. [Romo] interrupts Nantz… when Nantz is trying to make his final call at the end of the game… The biggest issue is that they’re not together," he said.

Nantz refuted that sentiment, calling Tony "the absolute best."

"He’s also one of my best friends. I love the guy. And when somebody starts questioning our chemistry, there’s an agenda there. There is nothing wrong with our chemistry. I have never had better chemistry with anybody in my career than Tony," Nantz said. "All you have to do is sit in the booth with us, which people that are covering our business, they’re always welcome to come in and take a look at how we interact between the two of us, on the air, off the air, between plays. It’s amazing."

While Nantz mentioned that critiques didn't take off until after the AFC championship game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs, fans and media personalities seemed to reach a consensus just a little before then.

During the Buffalo Bills and Bengals AFC divisional-round game, there were plenty of social media complaints about Romo sounding unsure about plays amid pauses and other unusual moments.

“Tony Romo is the college kid who didn’t crack a book all semester but his sure-fire oral exam strategy is to smother the professor with enthusiasm, charm, bluster and every possible answer,” ESPN senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. wrote on Twitter that day.

Romo signed a $180 million extension with CBS in 2020 that will keep him with the network through 2030. Although that alone sounds like it will prevent Romo from letting critics get him down, Nantz also offered him a shining endorsement.

“Tony is amazing. Don’t ask everybody to be the same, by the way. Tony does it his own way. I’m talking presentation and everything. Tony has his way of watching a game. It’s fun," he said. "There’s a magnetism with Tony. There’s an excitement. It’s real. Our friendship is real."

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