Tony Romo is neither a chicken nor an egg, but his football career has some fowl-like characteristics.
Take heart, Dallas Cowboys fans; long before Romo began his career for your favorite team, his football track record followed a similar pattern that has come to define him as a player.
An inspirational story, coupled with impressive statistics, and a puzzling lack of “big wins.”
Whether he was with the Dallas Cowboys, Eastern Illinois Panthers or Burlington Demons, there has always been a perfectly logical explanation why Romo has never won “the big one,” and only a few times has it been his fault.
Right about 7:20 CST on Sunday night in Landover, Md., would be the ideal time for Romo to break this maddening pattern of painfully close, thus altering how he is viewed as a quarterback.
The problem is, if he is going to do it, he should plan to go it alone.
For the older crowd, think Will Kane from “High Noon”; for the younger crowd, go with John McClane from “Die Hard”.
If Romo ever wants to be included in the “great” crowd such as Brady, Manning, the other Manning, Brees and a handful of others, he has to win this game, and a few more like it.
We know he can win in the regular season, put up great stats in December, but only games such as this can change a legacy. Sunday night is one of those precious times when perceptions are altered.
It is not fair to ask Romo to be Gary Cooper, but if the Cowboys are going to defeat the Redskins, Romo is going to have to break the cycle his career has followed since he was a teenager and be the reason the team will win the NFC East.
Under normal circumstances in games such as these, the safer bet is always the team that has the veteran quarterback who has played on this stage before against the kid whose biggest career win was in Waco against Oklahoma last year.
These are not normal circumstances. We now know that RGIII is a bad man capable of providing years of torment to the Cowboys.
(Memo to Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan: Do as the late Al Davis did and preach, “The quarterback must go down, and he must go down ‘haaaaahd'.”)
Without exception, Romo will have to be the best player on the field Sunday night for the Cowboys to win. Even then it may not be enough.
Romo has yet to throw a pass tonight and already plenty of reasons have been offered about why he will lose, even if he passes for 400 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
His team is on the road against a club that has won six straight.
His team is the underdog — some Vegas sports books have the Redskins as much as 3 1/2-point favorites.
His defense is a collection of spares, as the regulars will be watching on TV while they nurse their ouchies.
His offensive line is game, a bit overmatched and at best wildly erratic. The only thing that has saved this line from looking worse is Romo's ability to move.
“If your team is good enough, you can go win these games,” Romo told reporters last week.
The truth is his team may not be good enough, and that is not his fault.
The rub has always been his team has never been good enough to be better than close.
Not at Burlington, where the Elks never did reach a state finals game in his career.
Not at Eastern Illinois, where the Panthers never did win a playoff game in his career.
Not in Dallas, where the Cowboys are 1-3 under Romo in the playoffs.
Of course, these records are not all his fault, but he is the constant variable.
Romo deserves credit for putting these teams in a position to even have a chance.
But was Romo to blame for these teams losing their most important games? Similar things were once said of Peyton Manning from his days with Tennessee to his days with the Colts. It didn't change until he beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship Game.
No one ever said the NFL was fair, as Romo is well aware.
Romo may not care about perceptions, but he does care about winning. The Cowboys have to win for the perception to change that Romo is always going to be just slightly not good enough.
And for the Cowboys to win Sunday night, Tony Romo has to be the best player on the field.
Distributed by MCT Information Services.