Antonio Ramiro Romo (born April 21, 1980) is a professional American football quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Romo’s career passer rating – at 95.6 – ranks third-best all time. Romo replaced the Cowboys’ previous starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe during a game against the New York Giants in the 2006 season.
Romo was born in San Diego, California, while his father was serving in the United States Navy. His family returned to its home in Burlington, Wisconsin Romo’s athletic ability was evident even at an early age when he was selected for the Little League All-Star team.
Romo started as quarterback for the Burlington Demons beginning as a junior (1996 season). During his junior season, he led the Demons to a SLC Conference record of 7–2 and the WIAA playoffs. In the 1996 playoffs, Romo and the Demons defeated Greenfield 17-6 before trouncing Badger 41–16. Romo came within one game of the state championship game but fell short in a last-minute 16-15 loss to Cudahy. After the 1996 season, he received Honorable Mention in the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State Team.
Before his senior year of high school, BHS was realigned into the new SEC Conference along with the larger Racine and Kenosha metro schools. In the 1997 season, Romo and the Demons finished with a 3–6 record, though he earned several honors, including the All-Racine County football team, Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State first team honors, as well as honors by the Racine Journal Times 1997 Player of the Year.
Romo was a multi-sport athlete during high school, and in addition to being a member of the football team, he also was a starter on the BHS varsity basketball team; he also played golf and tennis.
Romo played college football at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois. As a sophomore in 2000, Romo ranked second in Division I-AA in passing efficiency, completing 164 of 278 (59%) passes for 2,583 yards and 27 touchdowns. After the season, he was honored as an All-America honorable mention, an All-Ohio Valley Conference member, and the OVC Player of the Year. As a junior, he led Division I-AA in passing efficiency, completing 138-of-207 passes for 2,068 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was selected to the AP All-America third team, All-Ohio Valley Conference first team and the OVC Player of the Year.
On December 19, 2002, Romo was the first player in Eastern Illinois and Ohio Valley Conference history to win the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the Nation’s top player at the NCAA Division I-AA level. He finished his career holding school and conference records with 85 touchdown passes. His last college game was a playoff loss to Western Illinois University. He was second in school and third in conference history with 8,212 passing yards. He was also second in school history with 584 completions and 941 attempts. As a senior, he set school and conference records for completions with 258 in 407 attempts for 3,418 yards, ranked him second in conference and third in school history for a season. He threw for 34 touchdowns and scored one rushing touchdown. Romo’s 3,149 yards in total offense as a senior ranked third in school and conference history. Along with the Walter Payton Award, Romo earned consensus All-America honors. He was also selected All-Ohio Valley Conference and was named OVC Player of the Year for the third straight year.
During homecoming weekend on October 17, 2009, Eastern Illinois University retired Romo’s No. 17 jersey and inducted him in to EIU’s Hall of Fame. Romo is the first Eastern Illinois player to have his number retired. He said of the event, “It was such an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame here, and with the jersey ceremony, it holds a special place in your heart.” 
Awards and honors
- 3× All-OVC (2000–2002)
- 3× OVC Player of the Year (2000–2002)
- 3× All-American (2000–2002)
- Walter Payton Award (2002)
Romo attended the 2003 NFL Combine, but, despite intriguing some scouts, went undrafted during the 2003 NFL Draft. Throughout the draft, Romo was assured by Sean Payton of the Cowboys’ interest (Romo was also intensely pursued by Denver head coach Mike Shanahan), and shortly afterwards was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cowboys. Romo entered the 2003 training camp third on the Cowboys’ depth chart behind Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson. In 2004, the Cowboys released quarterback Chad Hutchinson and signed veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde and traded a third round draft pick to the Houston Texans for quarterback Drew Henson. Romo faced being cut from the roster until Quincy Carter was released following allegations of substance abuse. After Vinny Testaverde’s tenure in Dallas ended in 2005, the Cowboys signed veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe, the eighth starting quarterback for the Cowboys since 2000.
One of Romo’s early career highlights was in 2004, when (as the third string QB) he rushed for the winning touchdown with six seconds left in an exhibition contest against the Oakland Raiders. Elevated to the Cowboys’ #2 quarterback in 2005, Romo had strong showings in the 2005 and 2006 pre-seasons. In the 2006 off-season, Sean Payton (now head coach of the New Orleans Saints), offered a third round draft pick for Romo, but Jerry Jones refused, asking for no less than a second round draft pick. Romo eventually took over the starting quarterback role from Drew Bledsoe during half time against the New York Giants on October 23, 2006.
Romo began the season as a backup to starter Drew Bledsoe. He took his first regular season snap at quarterback in a home game against the Houston Texans on October 1. His first NFL pass was a 33 yard completion to Sam Hurd. His only other pass of the game was a two-yard touchdown pass, his first in the NFL, to Terrell Owens.
Three weeks later on October 23, 2006, Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe for the start of the second half of a game against the New York Giants. His first pass was tipped and intercepted. His game stats in only his second NFL appearance were: 14 completions on 25 attempts for 227 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown). Two days later, on October 25, Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells announced that Romo would be the Cowboys starting quarterback for the October 29 game against the Carolina Panthers on NBC Sunday Night Football, in Week 8 of the 2006 season. Romo led the Cowboys to victory in his first game as a starter, 35–14. In that game, Romo was Sunday Night Football’s “Rock Star of the Game.”
On November 19, 2006 Romo led the Cowboys past the Indianapolis Colts, the NFL’s last unbeaten team. Romo completed 19 of 23 passes as the Cowboys topped the Colts 21–14. Four days later, Romo helped the Cowboys win in a Thanksgiving Day NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by the score of 38–10. Romo went 22-29 with 306 yards and five touchdown passes with no interceptions. For his performance, he was awarded FOX’s Galloping Gobbler award as the Thanksgiving Day MVP.
Romo aided the Cowboys in clinching a playoff spot, the second since Bill Parcells became coach in 2003. He concluded 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.
On January 6, 2007, the Dallas Cowboys traveled to Qwest Field to play the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC wild card playoff round. With the Cowboys down 21-20 and 1:19 left on the clock, Dallas attempted a 19-yard field goal. Romo botched the hold for the kicker by dropping the snap as he attempted to set it down. Romo then tried to run into the end zone for an impromptu touchdown, but was tackled at the one-yard line by Seattle defensive back Jordan Babineaux. Seattle took over on their own one yard line. It is unusual for a starting quarterback to be the team’s holder since the backup quarterback or punter normally performs that task. Romo had the job because he had begun the season as the backup quarterback. Romo finished the 2006 season ranked seventh in the NFC in passing yards (2,903) and touchdown passes (19).
Romo began the 2007 season with four touchdown passes and an additional touchdown rush, the first of his career, defeating the New York Giants 45–35 in the Cowboys’ first game of the regular season, His 345 passing yards in Week 1 led the NFL. In Week 2, Romo threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns beating the Dolphins in Miami, ranking him seventh in passing yards and tied for second with six touchdown passes. Romo added 329 passing yards and two touchdown passes in the Cowboys’ Week 3 34–10 win in Chicago. The following week, he passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns in a 35–7 win over the St. Louis Rams. He also ran for an additional touchdown. This brought his season totals to 1199 passing yards with 11 passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.
In Week 5 of the season on Monday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills, Romo threw five interceptions (four in the first half, two of which were returned for touchdowns), and lost a fumble. He is the second person in the history of Monday Night Football to throw five interceptions in a winning effort. The first person was his QB coach Wade Wilson. Nonetheless, he threw for 4,211 yards (third in the NFL) and 36 touchdown passes during the regular season (second only to Tom Brady). His 97.4 passer rating was good enough for fifth in the NFL behind Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, David Garrard, and Peyton Manning.
On October 29, Romo reached an agreement to a six-year, $67.5 million contract extension with the Cowboys.
On November 29 against the Green Bay Packers, in a game between 10–1 teams, Romo threw four touchdown passes (bringing his season total to 33), breaking Danny White’s (29) record from 1983. On December 22 against the Carolina Panthers, Romo became the first Cowboys’ quarterback to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season. Finally on December 30 against the Washington Redskins, Romo broke the Cowboys’ season completions record with his 335th completion, a short pass to Jason Witten. The Cowboys finished the season with a 13-3 record.
In the Cowboys’ January 13, 2008 Division playoff game against the New York Giants, Romo was unable to lead his team to a come-from-behind victory. On 4th down with less than half a minute and no timeouts left, Romo threw the ball into the endzone, but it was intercepted by Giants cornerback R. W. McQuarters, ensuring that the Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs with a 21–17 loss.
On September 7, 2008, Romo led the Cowboys to a 28–10 win over the Cleveland Browns in their season opener. Romo completed 24 of his 32 passes for a total of 320 yards and one touchdown. After the game, Romo required 13 stitches for a large gash on his chin that occurred during the 3rd quarter when linebacker Willie McGinest hit Romo in the chin with his helmet.
On September 15, 2008, Romo led the Dallas Cowboys to a 41–37 win against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second game of the 2008 season. Romo completed 21 of his 30 passes for a total of 312 yards and three touchdowns. The 54 combined points scored by the Cowboys and Eagles in the first half were the second most scored in a half during a Monday Night Football game.
Romo and the Cowboys would win their third straight before losing to the Washington Redskins, falling to 3–1. Following a win against the Cincinnati Bengals, Romo was injured in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Cowboys, under Brad Johnson, went 1–2 the next three games, falling to the St. Louis Rams, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and losing to the New York Giants.
In what became a de facto third playoff game for Romo shortly prior to its start, on December 28, 2008, Romo and the Cowboys failed to compete against the Philadelphia Eagles in a 44–6 loss. Romo committed three turnovers in the game and went 21/39 for 183 yards and no touchdowns. The loss dropped Romo’s combined record in December to 5–8 and again raised questions concerning Romo’s performance in games of consequence.
Romo led the Cowboys to a 34–21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their season opener. Romo completed 16 of his 27 passes for a then-career high 353 yards along with three touchdowns.
Romo and the Cowboys were defeated in week 2 against the New York Giants in the Cowboys home opener at their new Cowboys stadium. Romo completed 13 of 29 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown. He also threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown for the Giants. The loss led the media as well as other former Cowboys including hall of famer Tony Dorsett further criticizing Romo and his performances in big games.
Romo was quoted as saying “We came out stale” against a Denver Bronco team that thoroughly shut down his teams passing and running attacks. But he was successful in completing a 53 yard pass to Sam Hurd at the end of the second half but failed on the following three plays to get the ball in the endzone which would have taken the game into overtime. He was quoted as saying, “we need to get better.”
In a December road game against the division rival New York Giants, Romo passed for a career high 392 yards, along with three touchdown passes in a losing effort.
After several kicks were missed by kicker Nick Folk due to bad holds by punter Mat McBriar, Romo resumed holding duties for the first time since the 2006 in their 13th game of the season, versus the San Diego Chargers 
In week 15, Romo led the Cowboys to a win against an undefeated team late in the season for the second time in his career. In 2006, he won against the 10-0 Colts, and on 19 December 2009, he defeated the 13-0 Saints at New Orleans, throwing for 312 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
Romo finished the 2009 season as the first quarterback in team history to take every snap for a full season. He also passed his own mark for single season passing yardage, with 4,483 yards, and became the first Cowboys quarterback to throw 20+ touchdowns and less than ten interceptions in a season. His eight 300 yard games was also a team record, surpassing his own record from 2007. His 1.6% interception percentage tied a team record, and his career interception percentage is now the lowest in franchise history.
The Dallas Cowboys became the NFC East division champions with their season finale shutout of the Philadelphia Eagles, the second division title in Romo’s three full seasons as the starting quarterback.
Romo had a 104.9 passer rating in a 34-14 defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs, earning the first play-off win in 13 years for the Dallas Cowboys, and his own first career post-season win.
However the following week in the NFC divisional rounds against the number two seed Minnesota Vikings, Romo had three fumbles (losing two), an interception and was sacked six times in the 34-3 loss.
Records and honors
- 2006 Pro Bowl
- 2007 Pro Bowl
- 2009 Pro Bowl
NFL All-Time Records
- #3 All-Time Career Passer Rating: 95.6
- #4 All-Time Yards Per Attempt: 8.1
Dallas Cowboys team records
- Games with 300+ yards passing: 24 (previously held by Troy Aikman with 13)
- Games with 300+ yards passing: 8 (2009)
- Passing TDs: 36 (2007); previously held by Danny White with 29
- Passing yards: 4,483 (2009); only Cowboys’ quarterback to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season (2007. 2009)
- Completions: 347 (2009); previously held by Romo with 335
- On Nov 23, 2006, Romo threw 5 TD passes in a game, a record he shares with Troy Aikman.
During the 2008 season, Romo broke the little finger on his right hand (throwing hand) during overtime in an early season loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He missed the following three games with the injury.
Romo is an avid amateur golfer, and attempted to qualify for the 2004 EDS Byron Nelson Championship and the 2005 U.S. Open, but failed. During the offseason, when not training, he plays golf around Dallas. He failed to make the cut in qualifying for Byron Nelson in 2008.
Romo is also a frequent guest on local sports radio programs. During the 2006 and 2007 seasons, he was the co-host of “Inside The Huddle”, a one-hour player commentary show that aired on local talk radio in Dallas along with linebacker Bradie James. Romo was replaced for the 2008 season by (then) Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens. The show is broadcast on the KLLI radio station in Dallas.
Romo had been socially associating with country music singer Carrie Underwood. Romo also confirmed that they dated off and on throughout the end of 2006 and much of 2007. They no longer date, but are still friends. In November 2007, Romo began dating singer and actress Jessica Simpson. On December 16, 2007, Simpson attended a Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game at Texas Stadium, in which Romo had a bad performance in the loss to the Eagles. Further controversy erupted before the playoff game against the New York Giants when pictures surfaced of Romo (along with teammates Jason Witten and Bobby Carpenter) at a resort in Cabo San Lucas with Simpson.
On July 13, 2009, People reported that Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson had called it quits. A source close to the pop star told the magazine that Romo broke up with Simpson on July 9, 2009—the night before her 29th birthday.
Romo is a second generation Mexican American on his father’s side and is of German and Polish descent from his mother’s side. His grandfather, Ramiro Romo Sr., emigrated from Múzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico, to San Antonio, Texas, as an adolescent. The elder Romo cites Tony’s success as an example of the possibilities afforded to immigrants in the United States: “I’ve always said this is a country of opportunities. If you don’t get a job or an education, it’s because you don’t want to.”
In September 2007, Romo’s father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Tony Romo has stated that, while upset about the family crisis, he still must continue to focus on his career.