Will he or won’t he? He will — retire, that is. The months-long speculation about veteran Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo ended today with his decision to retire fromthe NFL after 14 season and join CBS’ announcing team. Despite having no formal broadcasting experience, he will replace the network’s longtime lead analyst Phil Simms alongside play-by-play man Jim Nantz.
The news comes one day after ESPN landed newly retired NFL coach Rex Ryan for its pro football coverage.
Romo was a popular if polarizing player, with his backward ballcap and gunslinger mentality on the field. His career was hampered by injuries and unfulfilled expectations — he won exactly two playoff games — but his disarming smile and unapologetic swagger attracted even football nonfans, along with his very public two-year romance with Jessica Simpson in the late 2000s.
His playing status has been in question since missing most of the 2015 season with injury then breaking a bone in his back on his first play of the 2016 preseason — and missing the entire regular season. Meanwhile, the Cowboys rolled through their opponents, led by rookie QB sensation Dak Prescott. His success and the team’s put Romo in NFL purgatory.
Simms, meanwhile, has been CBS’ lead NFL game analyst for nearly two decades, arriving in 1998 after a Hall of Fame career as quarterback of the New York Giants and broadcasting stints with ESPN and NBC. He and Nantz have been the network’s No. 1 booth team since 2003. Simms’ status at CBS Sports is unclear for now.
The NFL is coming off a season of lower ratings and off-the-field distractions — Colin Kaepernick, the Tom Brady suspension, officiating concerns, multiple franchise relocations — though the Super Bowl ratings remained stellar. The infusion of Romo, and Ryan, in the broadcast booth should spark renewed interest in games as both had careers marked by soaring highs and chasm-like lows, all while thrilling fans and roiling critics. Several rule changes adopted at the NFL owners meeting last month also are aimed at speeding up the game on TV.
The 2017 regular season begins in early September. The schedule will be unveiled this month.
Sports Business Journal first reported the Romo-CBS news.