Hero to zero
Celebrity life is one more trap door for Tony Romo
Posted: Tuesday January 15, 2008 1:33PM; Updated: Tuesday January 15, 2008 2:16PM
A little more than a year ago, Tony Romo was a can't-miss golden boy. Then he committed an unfortunate bobble in the playoffs against the Seahawks and went home for the winter, but his luster remained intact. As of 5 p.m. last Sunday, his and the Cowboys' coronation remained a certainty, according to the pundits at least.
Now Romo is an objection of scorn and derision for failing to beat the ripe-for-the-picking Giants. Amazing how quickly perception and opinion turn these days
We live in a 24/7/365 judgment cycle where you can go from hero to zero in the space of one game, and the celebrity life of the modern pro athlete is just one more trap door. The old "women weaken legs" argument didn't hold much Gatorade, but "Little Romeo" -- in the words of ESPN's Skip Bayless -- has been sacked for drawing a boatload of added pre-game attention and distraction to the Cowboys for his dalliance with Jessica Simpson in Cabo.
This attention, from fans as well as the media, is really just so much tee-hee, the equivalent of that old schoolyard song, "Tony and Jessica sittin' in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Tony with the baby carriage."
But that's what you get in an age of paparazzi when athletes are fodder for Abscess Hollywood and other gossip shows along with movie stars and folks who are famous mostly for being eight sheets to the wind.
It's funny to think that there was a time when Joe Namath and his swingin' bachelor lifestyle stood out among his bristle-headed QB peers. Terry Bradshaw and skater Jo Jo Starbuck were in item, but a famous fuss was made about Bradshaw's intelligence, or alleged lack thereof, not his sex life.
Now athlete-celebrity couples are one thin dime per crate of 12. While Namath was winked at, Bradshaw proved to be plenty smart enough, and Tom Brady can likely have supermodels in the huddle as long as he keeps winning, Romo is being dispatched to Eliville, that cold, hard place recently vacated by the last Manning standing in the playoffs.
Who woulda thunk it? Two months ago, Eli Manning was the disappointment, the never-will.
It's easy to see why so many of you harbor such contempt for the talking boxheads and nattering keyboard jockeys of the media. We blanket cover the banal while we anoint one minute and tear down with great zeal the next. Last September, I engaged in a FanNation Throwdown. The subject: Who most deserves to be fired: Tom Coughlin or Herm Edwards? I argued it was Coughlin, whose Giants were 0-2 and in sullen, almost comical disarray. Readers voted my side, 167-50.
I look pretty prescient, don't we? But prognostication is the natural coin of the realm in an age of gambling on sports. We like to think we know what's going on and we're just as sure we know what's going to happen. So as far as we know, Coughlin and Eli spent their free time reviewing game film and reading the Good Book while cuddling a glass of warm milk. Romo did what any wealthy, famous young man would do when a famous, trouser-tightening chanteuse made herself available, and he's paying for doing it in public. If they'd stayed in his shanty and inhaled a case of MD 20/20 while playing slap and tickle until 4 a.m., all we'd be talking about are the holes in Romo's game and the costly drops by Patrick Crayton and Anthony Fasano. We might even be giving some credit to the Giants.
As Terrell Owens rightly said, the Cowboys lost as a team. The Jessica stuff just added a big log to the fire that is roasting Romo. So who is to blame? Romo for not knowing better? The Cowboys for not tuning it out? The media for cranking out this pap? The fans who reveled in it?
Maybe we're all bozos on this bus.
Casey at the mic
As this space is keen to do whenever the hot air blows while Congress holds Major League Baseball's cleats to the fire, it's only fitting to trot out Casey Stengel's classic testimony before the Senate Anti-Trust and Monopoly Subcommittee hearing in 1958. Read a bit of the transcript and ponder what would happen if Bud Selig, Don Fehr or any player were to put on a linguistic performance like that before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the Mitchell Report. Times sure have changed...