Josh Clark contributed to this report.
DALLAS (AP/105.3 The Fan) — Tony Romo will join CBS Sports rather than take a shot at a Super Bowl with another team after losing his starting job with the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas released quarterback Romo on Tuesday. The release came at the request of Romo, who will retire from the NFL and pursue a career in broadcasting.
The all-time passing leader for the storied franchise is headed to the CBS broadcast booth after spending weeks considering other offers.
In a statement released today, Cowboys owner and CEO Jerry Jones addressed the terms of his Romo’s departure. “We wish Tony and his family nothing but the best. As an organization, we did what he asked us to do in terms of his release, and we wanted to do what was ultimately in his best interest and in the best interest of his family,” said Jones.
Jones expressed his appreciation for Romo and described what he considered “one of the greatest players in Cowboys history.”
“Tony has been a wonderful representative of the Cowboys organization for 14 years, and he left everything he had on the field,” said Jones. “We are thrilled for him and his family that he will be able to continue working as a professional in the game he so dearly loves,” Jones continued. “He is a young man who is just getting started on a long journey in life. All the best my friend,” he concluded.
In addition to Jones, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett praised Romo for everything he’s done with a star on his helmet. “Tony Romo has a unique combination of athletic ability, arm talent, vision, and instincts for the game. What separates Tony from many other players, however, is a rare competitive spirit. Tony loves to play. Tony loves to compete. The best ones always do. In practice. During games. On the field. Off the field. Tony competes to the end in everything that he does.”
“That relentless spirit that Tony plays with is contagious. He makes his teammates better. He makes his coaches better. He makes his team better,” Garrett continued. “He has grown so much as a player and as a person over the course of his career and has made a significant impact on the lives of so many. I consider myself fortunate to be at the top of that list. It has been one of the great privileges of my life to work with Tony Romo, one of the greatest players in Dallas Cowboys history.”
Romo will replace Phil Simms and will be paired with Jim Nantz on CBS’s number one NFL broadcast team, the network announced Tuesday. “Tony has been one of the NFL’s biggest stars for the past decade; and we are thrilled to welcome him to CBS Sports,” said the chairman of CBS Sports, Sean McManus. “He will bring the same passion, enthusiasm and knowledge that he displayed on the field to the broadcast booth. He brings a fresh and insightful perspective to our viewers having just stepped off the field. We know Tony will quickly develop into a terrific analyst, and alongside Jim Nantz, will become a must listen for fans each week,” McManus added.
In his first statement since the announcement, Romo says he always knew he wanted to be a broadcaster when his career was over. “When you think about the NFL, two of the most iconic brands are the Dallas Cowboys and CBS Sports,” said Romo. “Going from one legendary team to another as I begin the next phase of my career is a dream come true. I have always known that once my playing career was over I wanted to become a broadcaster. I am ecstatic for the opportunity to work with Jim as I learn the craft and convey to fans my passion for this great game.”
Romo replaces another former quarterback in Phil Simms, who’s been a lead analyst with CBS for nearly 20 years.
“As we welcome Tony, we want to acknowledge Phil Simms who served as our lead NFL analyst for nearly 20 years,” said McManus. “Phil has been a very important part of our coverage since the NFL returned to CBS in 1998. His strong opinions, coupled with his tremendous knowledge and passion for the National Football League, has created a unique broadcasting style making him one of the best analysts to ever call the game. We are discussing with Phil his future role with CBS Sports. We cannot thank him enough for the way he has represented himself and CBS Sports during his tenure as CBS’s lead NFL analyst,” McManus concluded.
The biggest question now in all of this is whether or not Romo is actually retired from football. On a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, while never mentioning the word retirement, Romo said he was 99% sure he was done playing. Adding, “do I envision coming back and playing football? Absolutely not. Will I get some calls? Sure I will. That’s the reality.”
McManus said on the call that they had discussed the possibility of Romo joining their broadcast team at the end of the season but an agreement wasn’t finalized until Monday night.
Romo added that other networks were trying to add him to their lineup, but he felt the opportunity to work with CBS was a “gift and privilege.”
Throughout the entire offseason, speculation had been rampant about the likes of the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos attempting to bring Romo in to solve their quarterback woes.
When asked about the Texans specifically, Romo confirmed they were one of the teams at the top of his list if he wanted to keep playing. But can he still play? Romo confirmed he could and said this is the healthiest he’s been since 2014 and that he “didn’t know that the competitive fire is ever going to go away.”
“I understand that I can still play the game of football. That’s not going to be leaving me anytime soon, ” Romo concluded.
Following his release, the Cowboys made a tribute to Romo by displaying the number 9 on signs at The Star in Frisco on Tuesday.
Romo’s departure from Dallas has been the most likely outcome since he returned after missing the first 10 weeks with a back injury. He conceded the starting job to rookie Dak Prescott with the Cowboys in the middle of a franchise-record 11-game winning streak.
When asked if he still played last season, would things be different right now? Romo said, “Life has a way of changing directions. I think sometimes stuff happens. You get up and you figure it out. … You just don’t know how that season would have went. I have no ill will in any capacity.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told Romo before free agency opened that the team would release him to give him a chance to continue his career with another contender. But Dallas decided at the last minute to try to generate interest in a trade. When there was no interest in a trade, everything stalled publicly.
So why did it take so long for the Cowboys to release Romo if there wasn’t a team interested in dealing for him? And why did he ask to be released?
Romo addressed that topic on the call by saying that he would have had to pay back his signing bonus had he not been and even praised the Cowboys owner for being amazing throughout the process. “I know it may have looked different from the outside,” Romo said. “I’ve never had a better boss, owner, or mentor than Jerry Jones. He’ll always be in my life, and I’ll always be in his.”
Romo, who was signed through 2019, had a $14 million base salary and a $24.7 million salary cap hit for the Cowboys this season.
The franchise leader with 34,183 yards passing and 248 touchdowns, Romo never parlayed his regular-season success into deep playoff runs the way Hall of Famers and multiple Super Bowl winners Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman did before him.
Romo was 78-49 as the starter in Dallas, but just 2-4 in the postseason, with no road victories and no trips to the NFC championship game for a proud franchise that is one of just three teams that hasn’t played for the NFC title the past 21 seasons.
His playoff debut a little more than 10 years ago illustrated the playoff struggles ahead when Romo infamously flubbed the snap on what could have been a winning field goal in Seattle.
A year later, the Cowboys lost their playoff opener to the New York Giants as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, a defeat that stung even more for fans because Romo went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, during the bye week with several teammates.
Romo didn’t help his perception after the 2008 season finale, a 44-6 loss at Philadelphia that kept Dallas out of the playoffs when he infamously said, “If this is the worst thing that will ever happen to me, then I’ve lived a pretty good life.”
As time passed, Romo seemed to understand why that quote struck a nerve for followers of America’s Team. And he gave them the only playoff victories for the Cowboys since their last Super Bowl title following the 1995 season.
The most recent postseason win — in the wild-card round against Detroit — came during the last season that Romo was the full-time starter in 2014. The next season, he missed 12 games with a twice-broke left collarbone as the Cowboys went first-to-worst at 4-12.
When Romo broke a bone in his back on an awkward tackle from behind in the preseason at Seattle, Prescott had already shown promise in the first two exhibition games. After losing his regular-season debut to the New York Giants, Prescott guided the Cowboys on their record streak, with Romo as his backup for the final three wins.
Romo played just one series in his final season with Dallas, and his last pass was a 3-yard touchdown to Terrance Williams in a meaningless regular-season finale at Philadelphia. His last snap in a home regular-season game was the last of three broken collarbones sustained in his career, on Thanksgiving in 2015 against Carolina.
While chided for his interest in golf and celebrity girlfriends, Romo developed a reputation for toughness. He led two fourth-quarter comebacks on the road with serious injuries — fractured ribs and a punctured lung at San Francisco early in 2011 and a herniated disc in his back at Washington two years later.
You can hear Romo talk more about his new career on “The Ben and Skin Show” on Wednesday on 105.3 The Fan.
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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)