Super Bowl: Why Tony Romo is the best commentator in sports as he puts his mystic powers to the test in biggest game of career

Romo faces pressure to replicate his impressive performance in the AFC Championship game when he accurately predicted a number of plays as the Patriots beat the Chiefs

Jack Rathborn
Monday 04 February 2019 00:30
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The most anticipated performance from a quarterback when Super Bowl 53 begins on Sunday is arguably a man not even on the field.

Tony Romo is in the unique situation of garnering as much attention, and perhaps pressure, as Tom Brady or Jared Goff.

That’s because the former Dallas Cowboys star has revolutionised sports broadcasting as we know it by accurately predicting plays.

“New England tried play action earlier, I can’t see it, this has to be a run,” Romo remarked seconds before Brady handed the ball off to Rex Burkhead to drive home a dagger of a touchdown against the Chiefs in overtime, booking the Patriots’ Super Bowl place.

It capped a series of bold play predictions throughout a thrilling AFC Championship game, with anticipation rising after two weeks of build-up to his next masterful breakdown from the booth.

“There’s no plan of doing it at all,” Romo admitted when quizzed on whether he looks to make outlandish predictions. “Sometimes you just get passionate and you get excited and in the moment you start, you know, just really talking out loud what’s going through your brain. Sometimes you see a lot of stuff and then you just try and articulate that to the people who are watching.”

Romo, who is adored by Cowboys fans, became well known for being the protagonist as Dallas conspired to combust at the least opportune moment over a series of underperforming seasons. Rival fans would routinely consume a healthy dose of schadenfreude as the Cowboys’ seasons unravelled – with 23 years and counting since their last Super Bowl.

Underrated due to his peak coinciding with the golden age of quarterbacks, Romo still managed four Pro Bowl appearances and argued he was hard done by to be eclipsed by Aaron Rodgers as the league’s MVP in 2014.

But now, due to his inability to lead the Cowboys to the big game as a player, Romo is facing the biggest moment of his career in the NFL.

Tony Romo will call the Super Bowl for CBS (Getty )

In a similar way to how Frank Lampard found adulation from Manchester City fans later in his career after starring for a Chelsea side hated by so many, Romo has almost been almost unanimously celebrated as a commentator with CBS Sports.

Paired with the legendary Jim Nantz, their acoustics in the booth this weekend make for one of the most compelling sports broadcasts in recent memory.

The majority of those who tune in to watch the action at the futuristic Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will not be gridiron aficionados, and their natural tendency will be to follow the ball on the screen. But Romo’s ability to force the viewer to trust his anticipation provides for a unique experience. He does so with a thrill resembling that of a child shredding paper on Christmas day, framing the drama perfectly.

It’s not by chance either, with his tremendous appetite to do his homework, pestering defensive coordinators in the build-up to games. Despite his position as a player, he maintains a fascination for defence.

“He’s passionate, loves the game, studied the game and to the degree that he can articulate the game with the enthusiasm that he has that’s infectious, and that’s what caught people,” remarked Romo’s CBS colleague James Brown. “Tony is sharing with you every Sunday what his role was all the years he was a quarterback.”

His greatness in the booth could be shortlived too, with his $4 million (£3 million) per year deal with CBS expiring after next season. Rumours persist of a career in coaching with the 38-year-old likely to fetch offers within the next year, perhaps from Jerry Jones in Dallas, who remains a huge admirer.

“I’m going to go 28-24 and I think that 24 has the ball at the end and they don’t score,” Romo remarked on Tuesday without picking a side, but insisting the side with 24 points would have the ball last.

So the pressure is truly on Romo to prove he is ‘Romostradamus’; pull it off during the biggest game of them all and he will have raised the bar for sports broadcasters forever.

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