If Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo thought he was under pressure in previous years, he may soon consider those the good old days of easy living.
Since signing a $108 million, six-year extension, with $55 million guaranteed, Romo has been under a blitz of scrutiny and criticism. Not helping is the fact he needed surgery for a cyst on his back soon after the signing and was unable to participate in OTAs or the minicamp.
No quarterback has ever led his team to a Super Bowl after missing OTAs and minicamp, and only one has led his team to the conference title game -- that was Brett Favre with the Vikings in 2009.
Favre already had a Super Bowl title and several league MVPs on his resume by then; Romo has played seven years and has a total of one playoff win.
Put that together with Romo's new contract and absence from offseason workouts, and there has been plenty of chatter about expectations.
Former star Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson, a member of the team's Ring of Honor, is the latest to express concern over Romo. Pearson played with quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Danny White and said Romo isn't putting in the offseason work they did, and needs to spend more time to make up for what he has missed.
"I think that's very important," Pearson told the Fitzsimmons and Durrett show on 103.3 KESN-FM. "A lot of people might discount it because you're just running routes a lot of times against the air and that type of thing. But you're building a timing thing, a confidence thing with yourself and the quarterback. You're also building chemistry amongst all the other receivers, all the other quarterbacks and tight ends, whoever's out there catching balls. I think it's real important that you do the work in the off-season that leads to success during the regular season.
"I have a little concern that they're not getting this right now because of Tony's situation. But I'm a little reserved in that simply because Tony's a veteran and I think he can pick it up. Now the question is, once he gets the OK to go out there and throw again, how much are they going to do it? I think they got to do it double time now. Sure, the work in training camp, but what are you going to do before training camp practice? What are you going to do after training camp practice, to try to get up to speed to where you know where everyone else is at that point, because I know Peyton Manning's out there throwing routes. I know Tom Brady's throwing with his receivers. Cam Newton, all these other quarterbacks are doing that."
Owner Jerry Jones seemed to feel similarly after he signed Romo to the new deal.
"When you give somebody $100 million, you'd like to get every ounce of anything they can bring to the table to win a football game," Jones said.
Jones said he believes Romo is a great offensive mind who can add a lot to game-planning sessions.
"He's outstanding on offensive concepts and he's got a vantage point that very few people have," Jones said. "So anything that he can bring from the concept to the field has got to make us a better football team. I think it will."
Romo has acknowledged the task before him, even if he hasn't done enough to make some of his critics happy.
"Winning a Super Bowl is a challenge. I think it's the ultimate challenge," Romo said. "I think it's something that wakes me up and gets me excited in the morning, continuing to find a way to make that happen for the fans, for the organization and these players in here. It's something that sits there and you just constantly are trying to figure out a way to do that, through different ways."