There is some comfort in knowing that the higher-ups at CBS see and hear the same things we do during their NFL broadcast. They can’t miss that Tony Romo is merely making noises like some sort of fusion between a pin and whoopee cushion and not much else. It seems they even tried to do something about it. But when you’re paying a guy $17 million a year, you’ve already told him that whatever he’s doing is fine, haven’t you? Why should he work all that hard to change?
It’s important to review why Romo got all this leeway, and why CBS and a lot of fans took far longer than it should have to realize that he’s not much more than an annoying soundtrack of an intrusive physical exam. If you wanted the feeling of a drunk sitting behind you at the stadium right before he vomits all over himself, Romo’s your guy. Anyway, Romo got a lot of plaudits from the very first game he did, where he successfully predicted a lot of plays before they happened, so much as saying, “This is gonna be a run to the right,” without saying how the defense would do against that is successful.
It was a neat trick, and not one seen on most NFL broadcasts, except it isn’t the job. The job is to tell us why something happened, to show us the things we couldn’t see on the play that just took place. Romo has never been good at that, and never really tried to be. He’s always…just emitted sounds. But no one bothered to notice for the longest time because of that one week. And now he doesn’t even really do that one trick.
The best thing any broadcaster can do, which Romo is but doesn’t seem to recognize, is not getting in the way. The game itself is supposed to tell the story, and if it’s a good one the broadcast merely has to “color” in the blanks. That’s why it’s called a “color commentator.”
Romo didn’t have much of a bar to clear. He just had to sound interested, which he does, to get past most people’s complaints about Troy Aikman. He just had to sound like he just hadn’t recently huffed a bucket of white-out to sound better than Phil Simms, which he’s just barely cleared. And he had to be just a little less folksy or dorky than Cris Collinsworth, which he hasn’t cleared, especially that when you can get past Collinsworth’s constant ass-licking he actually shows you stuff.
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CBS attempted an “intervention” with Romo
Romo was apparently told all of this in the offseason, but hasn’t changed an iota. And why should he? They handed him all the money in the world and will have to. So if he doesn’t want to spend his week breaking down tape, he’s not going to.
If you read the article, Romo’s quotes are a bunch of word salad that makes it clear he doesn’t really care and is just going to keep being a watered-down version of Michael Winslow. He makes it clear he’s going to continue to watch as a fan, but again, that’s not his job. We’re fans, and we can sense the occasion simply through the crowd and field mics. We don’t need hyping. Show me what I can’t see. Teach me the game.
The highlight of this story, by some margin, is that Jim Nantz is just as up his own ass as you probably assumed he was. You can hear Nantz’s frustration during the broadcast these days when Romo isn’t doing what he’s supposed to and is just a noisemaker, and yet he can’t be bothered to do much about it. There are ways to set up Romo to actually analyze, but Nantz always moves on.
But…$17 million. Romo has got all his reasons. The ratings don’t go down. He could literally bark into the microphone and it probably wouldn’t damage the ratings. He knows that. CBS knows that. And so here we are.
Nice little stretch Giannis is having, wouldn’t you say?