American football player Tony Romo is best known as the starting quarterback for NFL's the Dallas Cowboys. Joining the Cowboys in 2003 as a rookie free agent, he spent nearly four years as a backup quarterback and ball holder for placekicks with his team before eventually taking over the coveted position from Drew Bledsoe in October 2006. He has since emerged as a new star for the Dallas Cowboys. Romo became the first player in the history of the Cowboys to throw over 4,000 yards in a season, which he set in 2007, and broke the record in passing touchdowns (36) and completions (335) during the 2007 season, both of which were previously held by Danny White. His other career highlights include becoming the 2006 recipient of FOX's Galloping Gobbler award for Thanksgiving Day MVP and the second player in MNF history to throw 5 interceptions in a winning attempt in 2007.
Prior to signing with the Cowboys, Romo was an Eastern Illinois football star. During his 1999 to 2002 college tenure, he won the NCAA's Walter Payton Award as the top player in Division I-AA in 2002 and earned All-America and All-Ohio Valley Conference honors three times. He was also a three-time OVC Player of the Year.
Romo has been linked to celebrities like country music singer Carrie Underwood and Sophia Bush. As of November 2007, he has been dating actress/singer Jessica Simpson.
A good amateur golfer, Romo tried to qualify for the 2004 EDS Byron Nelson Championship and the 2005 U.S. Open, but failed. He scored another failed attempt at the 2008 Byron Nelson Championship.
Childhood and Family:
The third child of Ramiro and Joan Romo, Antonio Ramiro Romo, known simply as Tony Romo, was born on April 21, 1980, in San Diego, California, while his father was serving in the United States Navy. His family moved back to their hometown of Burlington, Wisconsin, when Tony was two years old. He grew up there with his two older sisters, Danielle (born in 1976) and Jossalyn (born in 1978).
Young Tony discovered a love for basketball and was inspired to compete after watching his dad play intramural basketball at the city gym. He continued to take part in several other sports like baseball, golf, soccer and football. At age 9, Tony played little league baseball. He moved on to senior league baseball when he was 12 years old and soon emerged as an impressive catcher. By the time he was 15 years old, Tony had helped his team win a Burlington senior league championship.
Despite his early success in baseball, Tony opted to try soccer in high school. He auditioned for the freshman soccer team at the Burlington High School, but after spending two weeks at training camp decided to quit because the freshman soccer team could not play a full team. He next turned his attention to football and played quarterback for his school team, the Burlington Demons, during his junior and senior year. Tony later won a partial football scholarship to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, where he majored in Business.
Tony was a member of the Sigma Pi Fraternity.
Walter Payton Winner
An active athlete since age 6, Tony Romo played various sports but did not discover football until high school. As a quarterback for the Burlington Demons, he made the All-Racine County football team. He then played college football for Eastern Illinois University. As a junior, the San Diego-born athlete led in passing in Division 1-AA. After the season, he was named part of the Associated Press All-America third team, All-Ohio Valley Conference first team and the OVC Player of the Year. In his sophomore year, Romo made the top 2 in Division 1-AA in passing efficiency after finishing 138-of-207 passes for 2,068 yards and 21 touchdowns. In addition to receiving All-American honors, he was also selected All-OVC and was named OVC Player of the Year for the second consecutive year in 2001. Romo continued to show his domination as a senior. He ranked second in conference and third in the school’s history for a season when he completed 258-of-407 passes for 3,615 yards. With 3,149 yards in total offense during the season, he became one of the best three players in both schools and in the conference.
A memorable moment came on December 19, 2002, when Romo won the Walter Payton Award, which is awarded annually to the best college football player in the United States at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1-AA level. This victory made him the first player in eastern Illinois and Ohio Valley Conference history to win the prestigious award. For a third time, he was honored with an all-American honorable citation, as an All-OVC member, and OVC Player of the Year. When Romo ended his college career, he held the Eastern Illinois University record and Ohio Valley Conference records with 85 touchdown passes. He ranked second in school and third in conference history with 8,212 passing yards. Romo also became the second best player in the history of Eastern Illinois University with his 584 completions and 941 attempts.
After leaving college, Romo signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 2003 when no team picked him up in the NFL draft. The next year when the Cowboys signed veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverd and traded for Drew Henson, he was on the border of being cut from the roster, but was kept as the third string quarterback following the release of Quincy Carter. Subsequently, Romo demonstrated his potential. In a 2004 exhibition game against the Oakland Raiders, he was able to rush for the winning touchdown with 6 seconds left, an achievement that promoted him to second string quarterback for the Cowboys in 2005. Romo, however, did not become the Cowboys' starting quarterback until October 2006 after he was chosen to replace struggling starter Drew Bledsoe in the second half of a game against the New York Giants.
As the new starting quarterback, Romo led the Cowboys to triumph in his first game on October 29, 2006. At the time, the Cowboys beat the Carolina Panthers by a score of 35–14. On November 23, 2006, he helped his team against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Thanksgiving Day NFL game and was honored with the FOX Galloping Gobbler award as the Thanksgiving Day Most Valuable Player. Romo closed the 2006 regular season with 220 completions on 337 pass attempts for 2,903 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, with a passer rating of 95.1. He was ranked No. 7 in the NFC in passing yards and touchdown passes.
Romo's 2007 season marked his first participation in the Pro Bowl all-star game. He then joined coach Wade Wilson to become the only two players to throw 5 interceptions in a winning effort in Monday Night Football history after throwing 5 interceptions in a game against the Buffalo Bills in week 5 of the season on MNF. Romo became the fifth person in the history of NFL with a passer rating of 97.4. One month after receiving a six-year contract extension worth a reported $67.5 million, Romo set a new record with a total of 33 touchdown passes in a season after he threw four touchdown passes in a game against the Green Bay Packers on November 29, 2007. He went on to become the first Cowboy quarterback to pass over 4,000 yards in a season, which he set during a game against the Carolina Panthers on December 22, and broke the all-time completions record within the franchise with his 335th completion. Apart from his stellar performance, the Cowboys were swept by the New York Giants at the playoffs with a 21-17 loss in January 2008.
The 2008 season found Romo suffering from a series of injuries that gradually prevented him from giving his best performance. He broke his pinky finger on the right hand during overtime in an early season game against the Arizona Cardinals, in which the Cowboys lost, and was forced to miss the subsequent three games due to the injury. Later, in September 2008 when the Cowboys faced the Cleveland Browns, Romo received a large wound in his chin after linebacker Willie McGinest hit him with his helmet during the 3rd quarter. The Cowboys won the game with a score of 28-10, but Romo needed over a dozen stitches for his cut.
By December 2008, Romo's performance had showed a significant declined. He failed to lead the Cowboys to victory in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles (6-44).
FOX's Galloping Gobbler Award: Thanksgiving Day Most Valuable Player, 2006
Walter Payton Award: 2002
3x All-Ohio Valley Conference (OVC): 2000–2002
3x Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Player of the Year: 2000–2002
3x All-American: 2000–2002