Born in San Diego, California, in 1980, Tony Romo was a lightly regarded high school quarterback in Wisconsin. He was bypassed in the 2003 NFL draft despite winning the Walter Payton Award as the nation's top I-AA player, but joined the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent. After taking over the Dallas starting quarterback job in 2006, Romo became one of the NFL's most publicized and polarizing players.
Early Years and Schools
Antonio Ramiro Romo was born on April 21, 1980, to Joan and Ramiro Romo. Then stationed in San Diego, California, for the U.S. Navy, Ramiro moved his family to Burlington, Wisconsin, in July 1982.
Despite his athletic gifts, it took time for Romo to find his footing on the gridiron. He was initially far better at basketball, earning all-county honors as a senior point guard for Burlington High School. He became the starting quarterback for Burlington as a junior, but drew little interest from the top collegiate football programs, and settled for a partial scholarship from Eastern Illinois University.
Romo began putting in long hours to improve his play, progressing enough to win the Walter Payton Award as the nation's top Division I-AA player after passing for 3,165 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior. Bypassed in the 2003 NFL draft, he nevertheless drew interest from several teams as a free agent before signing with the Dallas Cowboys.
After patiently waiting on the bench for three seasons, Romo took over as the Cowboys' starting quarterback midway through the 2006 season. Demonstrating an ability to improvise and deliver exciting plays, Romo quickly became a fan favorite and led the Cowboys to the playoffs. The season ended on a sour note when his botched hold on a field goal attempt cemented a loss in the NFC Wild Card round, but he was still named to the Pro Bowl.
Proving the previous year's performance was not a fluke, Romo compiled a franchise-record 36 touchdown passes to steer Dallas to a 13-3 record and earn a second straight Pro Bowl selection in 2007. However, the Cowboys went on to lose in the playoffs to the New York Giants, sparking what soon became a regular discussion on the sports-talk circuit about Romo's "mental toughness" in big games.
Romo often dazzled with his stellar play in the years to come, setting franchise records for passing yards in 2009 (4,483) and 2012 (4,903), but he seemed unable to avoid the sort of season-ending meltdowns that bolstered his critics. With both Dallas and the Philadelphia Eagles tied for the NFC East lead heading into their final showdown of 2008, Romo failed to ignite the offense in a crushing 44-6 defeat. The Cowboys were in the same situation in 2012, needing to win their final game against the Washington Redskins to advance to the playoffs, before Romo's late interception sealed a tough loss.
Romo also began feeling the toll of the punishing hits dispensed by opposing defensemen. His 2010 season ended after six games due to a broken clavicle, and he suffered a broken rib and punctured lung early the following year. A herniated disk forced him to the sidelines for the final game of 2013, this time absolving him of blame for the team's season-ending defeat.
Despite being slowed by back and rib ailments in 2014, Romo proved he remained a quality quarterback for a competitive Dallas team, even earning a grudging respect from the critics who recognized his ability to bounce back from injuries and the heartbreaking losses of his earlier years.
Actively involved in charities in the Dallas area, Romo also oversees an annual summer football camp for kids at Burlington High School.
The quarterback was romantically linked to singers Carrie Underwood and Jessica Simpson before he married former Miss Missouri and television anchor Candace Crawford in 2011. Their first son, Hawkins, was born in 2012, and their second son, Rivers, followed two years later.
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