August 27, 2016: A date that will live in infamy for a nation of Dallas Cowboys fans forever.
It was announced around 3 p.m. EST that quarterback Tony Romo suffered a broken bone in his back, which will most likely cause him to miss more than half of the 2016 season. To many, this bombshell news came out of nowhere. In the third preseason game, against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night, Romo hurt his back while taking an awkward hit at the end of a slide from defensive end Cliff Avril. It scared a lot of Cowboys fans at the moment, but all seemed well when he was able to get back up. In fact, he even wanted get back into the game. This play was in the back of every fan’s mind during the game and even the day after, but not to the extent to where anyone assumed he suffered a broken bone in his back. Instead, that nightmare became reality. The big talk of the offseason for this team was whether or not Romo could keep his collarbone intact this season after suffering two separate injuries to it in 2015, but it was the career-plagued back that haunted him again.
With all of that being said, the 2016 season may officially be the starting point of the Dak Prescott era in Dallas. That still seems like a crazy thing to think about, but the reality is that he will undoubtedly be the opening-day starter on September 11, against the New York Giants. The eighth quarterback drafted in the 2016 NFL draft will be the first quarterback of the class to start in the regular season as of this moment, something that nobody would have predicted on draft day. The somewhat good news for Dallas in all of this heartbreak, is that Prescott was the star of the preseason for them, showing big throws and excellent poise under pressure throughout. This is obviously not the ideal time for Prescott to get his first start as a professional quarterback, but with this injury to Romo, it is absolutely time to see if he can be the quarterback of this team for years to come. The direction of the team at the quarterback position lies in the hands of rookie Dak Prescott, and it is up to him if he wants be the man going forward.
Now, let’s just say Dak Prescott carries over his preseason success into late October, when Tony Romo is expected to return from his injury, will the Cowboys hand the keys right back to the man who carried them for the past decade? I have a feeling that may not happen, considering the fact that they must absolutely look at a post-Romo era in Dallas, and if Prescott can prove his worth in the first half of the season, it is quite possible that we may not see Romo start again for this team. Add that to the fact that the Cowboys would be able to save approximately $30M over the next two years at the quarterback position, should he decide to hang up the cleats. A full breakdown of how Romo possibly leaving would affect the salary cap was written by KD Drummond of Cowboys Wire. This could all be for nothing if Romo is able to somehow recover from this back injury and play like normal, but the future must be discussed at the quarterback position, whether or not he is able to come back.
That was my analysis on the situation and how the future needs to be addressed, but lastly, I’m going to write from the heart as to why Tony Romo should think about retiring after the 2016 season. There is life after football, and with his long history of injuries, specifically his back, I want to see my favorite player to watch for this organization walk with his family 20 years from now. It is not up to me, but at some point, enough is enough. The wear and tear on somebody’s body can only go so far, and this was the last straw for me as I finally traded my hope as a fan that he will always get back up to being a realist. Tony Romo carried the team on his back for a decade, and it is sadly ironic that the back has finally broken with this latest injury. The time has possibly come for Romo to hang up the cleats after the 2016 season, and it is now time for Cowboys fans to prepare themselves for this possibility.