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Why Romo should sit on Sunday

I’ve been grappling with how timely these posts should be. If I were a hardcore newsperson, or a dedicated sports news blogger, I would always want a hook to my stories. It would be about the now. But The Tumult won’t be about just that, not solely about what is happening at this moment and is newsworthy. It’s a thought collection bin. And it will be creative and odd. That being said, this post has a timely tie-in.

Did you see Tony Romo on Sportscenter, talking at a press conference in London today (Thursday)? Did you see him try to move with two transverse process fractures in his back? Did see you Jerry Jones’s comments, saying he expected him to play on Sunday? Romo’s state and Jones’ comments just don’t mesh.

Romo looked hobbled today, and not just in his return to practice. He moved carefully and stiffly to and from the microphone. Romo himself wouldn’t commit to playing, but Jerry Jones has put him between a rock and hard place.

Here’s the takeaway. There is no reason Romo should play this week. And this isn’t the Eagles fan in me talking. It just makes no sense, and moreover it’s dangerous.

Have you ever seen someone with a bad back try to go about a day? Have you ever thrown your back out? It’s terribly painful. Every quick-twitch movement sends a jolt of sharp pain somewhere around your body. Now I’m clearly not a doctor. But it sure looked like just moving around caused real discomfort for Romo. Maybe he will be fine by Sunday. But why chance it? If you had to pick a time for Romo to take a knock, this would be it.

The Cowboys are in second in the NFC East but in good playoff position. They lost to the Cardinals last week with Brandon Weeden at the helm, but Arizona has the best record in the league. It would have been a tough game either way. Dallas plays Jacksonville in London on Sunday. The Jaguars are 1-8. Sure, Weeden isn’t great. But even with Weeden, would you still expect the Cowboys to win 50 percent of the time? 60 percent? 75? If you were a betting man, wouldn’t you still take the Cowboys in a straight pick-the-winner bet? And how much better is a hurt Romo than a healthy Weeden? Is an 85 percent Romo better? 75 percent? If he can’t get outside the pocket, how much of Romo’s game is lost? It’s all very much up in the air.

It’s Week 10. The Cowboys can still reasonably expect to win this singular game without Romo. But what if Romo plays and gets hurt even worse? The Jaguars are tied for third in the NFL with 27 sacks. Rushing the quarterback is about the only thing the team does well. There’s a pretty good chance Romo would take a hard hit on Sunday. What are the Cowboys’ chances at the playoffs or winning a Superbowl without Romo for a long stretch?

After the Jags, the Cowboys have a bye. Which means three straight weeks of rest for Romo if he takes Sunday off. That is a good chunk of recovery time. Simple rest can do wonders. But after the bye they play the Giants, Eagles, Bears, Eagles. That means two huge games against the first-place NFC East team, another division game and a matchup with a high-powered offense. Dallas will need Romo. And they will likely need a Romo playing near his peak.

Jerry Jones is pushing some kind of tough guy machismo that doesn’t make any sense. It’s dangerous for Romo and shortsighted for the Cowboys. Even if they shoot Romo with pain medication on Sunday and it works, what’s the long term consequence for his health?

Maybe I’m wrong and by Sunday Romo will feel fine and as pain-free as ever. I hope so. But even Romo admitted today was uncomfortable for him. And if there is any of that lingering feeling on Sunday there’s no reason to play, besides—you know— boss’s orders.

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