In 2018, I got the chance to sit down and chat with Tony Romo, who was gearing up for his second season alongside Jim Nantz in the CBS booth following a rookie broadcasting campaign where he quickly set himself apart from the very crowded pack of former NFL players who’ve tried to make the leap to television.
The retired quarterback quickly garnered a legion of fans among viewers who were impressed by his ability to deploy the knowledge he amassed over the course of his 14-year NFL career to break down the action to a point where he could routinely predict what was going to happen before the ball was snapped.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on The Discourse surrounding Romo over the course of the past few months, you’re likely aware he’s been at the center of a fair amount of criticism from viewers who feel like he’s lost his luster (backlash that’s been fueled by rumors concerning internal drama at the network and some very strange theories to explain his supposed decline).
That was one of the topics I got the opportunity to touch on when I reunited with Romo last week ahead of Super Bowl LVII. While he won’t be covering The Big Game, he will make an appearance on the broadcast courtesy of his role in the star-studded, Caddyshack-inspired Michelob Ultra commercials that have given him the chance to channel his inner Bill Murray.
During the conversation, the former Cowboys QB addressed some of the aforementioned criticisms while discussing how things have changed since joining CBS and was also kind enough to do a deep dive into the upcoming matchup between the Chiefs and the Eagles.
Tony Romo discusses Super Bowl LVII, his evolution as a broadcaster, and more
BroBible: Tony, it’s nice to get to talk to you again. I’m not sure if you remember but I actually interviewed you a while ago
Tony Romo: Oh, I actually remember that.
I’m the super tall dude.
Exactly! I heard I was going to be speaking with BroBible and I was like, “Is he the tall guy?” That’s so funny. You guys do a good job.
I appreciate it. So I’d like to start with my most pressing question: How long did you spend trying to perfect your Bill Murray impression?
That’s a good question. You might be the only person who’s asked me that.
I loved Caddyshack growing up. I love golf, and Caddyshack was one of my favorite golf movies. It’s interesting because when you watch something over and over, you think you know it, right?
But when you get a role like I did and you watch it, you’re like, “Wow, I forgot about that. Oh, I forgot about that. That’s right.” And then the subtlety comes in and then you’re like, “Well, now I have to try to be like Bill Murray,” who was iconic.
It was really fun. That’s part of the reason I signed on with Michelob Ultra. The brand is amazing. It’s like pure joy. Everyone is having a great time, you know what I mean? You can see that when you’re watching their spots and commercials, and so it was something you want to be a part of.
I also feel like they’ve done a good job in a lot of areas not everyone knows. They’ve really raised the visibility of female athletes. They used a lot of resources to get them more visibility and you’ll see that in these spots. There’s an equal number of men and women, and there are some legendary female athletes.
I know you’ve been at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am when Bill Murray was also participating. Have you ever crossed paths?
Sort of. I’ve seen him on the putting green or the range. He’s a legend. He’s someone I watched growing up, so you’re always like, “Wow, that’s Bill Murray.”
So you can still get starstruck?
I always get starstruck. I’m always like, “That guy is amazing. Should I say hi? Should I not?” I’m like a kid again.
I doubt I’m the first person to ask you this, but I’d love to get your thoughts on the keys for the Chiefs and the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
I actually haven’t really thought about that yet.
I guess I’m two-for-two on good questions then. Apologies for putting you on the spot.
I would say that the Eagles have an incredible scheme that’s gonna take another offseason for teams to figure out. You’ve got to give their front office credit for matching the scheme with their talents.
Sometimes there are situations where you’re like, “This guy’s amazing” but he doesn’t really fit into the scheme. A lot of teams don’t have the synergy that Howie Roseman and his coaching staff do.
What they did this off-season was made a concerted effort to go and make Jalen Hurts’ strengths accentuated. Last year’s system was okay, but it was still more of a dropback game. Now, they’re using things that Jalen Hurts is amazing at. Thanks to his work ethic and development, he now is playing at an incredibly high level.
They also brought in three college coaches who knew the RPO game; who knew the quarterback’s run game and the shotgun game.
You also can’t just put in all these new plays on defense and be like, “Hey, just run these plays.” ‘There are so many details. It’s like, “What happens if they do this? Well, then just do this.” Well, no. That doesn’t work.
Someone has to have gone through it 10,000 times to just teach it; “No, no, no. Here’s what they do if they have a Cover 3 technique, a Cover 4, a nine with the shade up front here with a safety down on this side. Safety man-to-man, they don’t run up.”
There’s so much detail, and if you get it wrong while trying to beat them, you’ll be like, “We’re not doing that again. We’re just getting sacked or intercepted.”
It’s sort of like when Seattle ran their Cover 3 in 2011. It shocked the world. I went into a game in what I think was 2012 and we were like, “They’re going to run Cover 3 the whole game? Are we in high school? We’re gonna destroy these guys.” Then we showed up and all of our Cover 3 routes were covered. It wasn’t Cover 3, but it looked like it.
The Eagles are doing that right now. They’re showing everyone, “It looks like this. Right? Just go ahead and do that.” So they’re going to be a formidable opponent and hard to beat in this game.
As far as the Chiefs though, they always have one X Factor: #15. If Patrick Mahomes just shows up on the field, it matters. He’s gonna walk into that stadium, and even if the Eagles have everything right on paper, he has a way of just neutralizing and making everything tighter if he’s an underdog—which is not very often.
So you think it’s going to come down to the offense that clicks the best?
I actually think it’s gonna come down to the defenses, as funny as that sounds. It’s going to be whoever has the best plan.
Philadelphia was really smart in how they attacked this offseason as far as the coaches they brought in to perfect the system. The Chiefs have Andy Reid, who’s one of the greatest coaches of all time. Steve Spagnuolo has also beaten more big-time quarterbacks than anyone in big games.
The only problem is I don’t think he’s ever run into this kind of system. That’s troublesome if you’re a Chiefs fan. However, Spagnuolo has a way of showing up in Super Bowls.
I won’t ask you for a score, but who do you think is going to walk away with the win?
After we did Philadelphia’s game earlier this year, I was like, “I don’t see a team beating these guys” just because of the scheme.” You need to play these guys three or four times before you can understand their system.
If Kansas City pulls this off, it’s because their defense was able to figure out something that no one else has this year. They can do it, but it’s going to be hard.
When I talked to you last time, you were gearing up for your second season in the booth. I’m curious to hear how you think you’ve changed since then. Have you consciously made any major decisions regarding your approach or made specific strides to evolve in that realm?
Yeah, I mean, you’re always doing that. You’re always trying to do the right thing. At the core, there are just more people now who feel like telling me how they think I’m doing. I have people coming up to me on the street far more than my first couple of years.
At first, they’d mostly tell me how much they love to listen to me and all these positives, so it’s fun. When you’re young and you come out and you’re good, then you’re dealing with more expectations. You find out some people don’t like you and some people want you to do things differently and do this and that instead.
You’ve gotta stay true to who you are. You can’t please everyone. I know that because the number of people who come up to me has quadrupled since the first two or three years.
The thing is, the people who really love you aren’t gonna keep going out of their way to say, “I love you.” They’re not going to keep tweeting “He’s the best” every week, right? So, that goes away and then you hear more negative stuff, but that’s just noise.
At the end of the day, my goal is just for the viewer at home to really feel the game. That’s what I tried to do with the AFC Championship. That was a huge game for Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, every coach, and everyone who played in that game.
These are literally life-changing games They are legacy games. They decide things you don’t even realize until much later on. Those moments are so huge based on how much effort and commitment they put in. I just like people to feel it.
Some people are like, “Well, I just wanna have quietness and just sit there and relax.” I’m like, “Well, you probably shouldn’t watch me as much.” I’m going to try to get you excited or at least try to get you to be like, “Oh, this is huge.” It’s not fake.
Not every game is as big, but I’m saying what I’m really feeling during every game.
Portions of this interview were edited for clarity.