Step Inside the Booth With the NFL’s Best Broadcaster, Tony Romo

InsideHook caught up with the former Cowboy prior to kickoff of the 2019-20 season

Tony Romo Is Football's Best Broadcaster
Tony Romo attends the 2018 CBS Upfront at The Plaza Hotel. (Matthew Eisman/Getty)
By Evan Bleier / September 4, 2019 6:00 am

As good as he was at being an NFL quarterback (four Pro Bowls, almost 35,000 passing yards and 250 touchdowns and a career QB rating of 97.1), Tony Romo is even better at talking about others playing NFL quarterback.

Since joining Jim Nantz in the broadcast booth for CBS following his retirement from the NFL following the 2016 season, Romo has been impeccable as a color analyst and has shown a rare talent for forecasting what will happen on the football field.

Romo is so good at predicting football futures that an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of all 2,599 plays the ex-Cowboys QB called last year found Romo made 72 correct predictions over the course of the season. According to The WSJ, Romo — who boasts a 65.3 career completion percentage — was correct 68 percent of the time when making a prediction.

So how does Romo, who will be answering calls on Corona Extra Gameday Hotline again this season, do it?

“Well, I decided 69 was too high and 67 was too low,” the 39-year-old tells InsideHook with a laugh. “No, I think you just study stuff your whole life, you feel like you’re confident in the system, the mannerisms, what’s the history of this coordinator, this quarterback, just little things here and there. Then you’re just trying to educate the viewer. I’m not trying to predict per se, I’m just trying to talk football and make it enjoyable for people.”

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Romo has had success in the broadcast booth because we all got to see how smooth and graceful an orator he is when he handed off the quarterback job in Dallas to Dak Prescott with a helluva speech.

But that’s not a topic Romo wants to delve into. “Yeah, I’m not going to get into all that,” Romo says. “You just feel certain things about the NFL and you want to say some things that you think, and then hopefully you can help a kid somewhere going through a tough time. That was at its core.”

Luckily, there were plenty of topics the best broadcaster in football was happy to discuss with InsideHook including Bill Belichick, the Browns and his well-renowned golf game.

What’s your favorite part of your job as a broadcaster?

I really enjoy two aspects of broadcasting. One, football. I just love the game so much. I love figuring out the nuances and the adjustments that each coach is making during the game from week to week, how the quarterback’s going to adjust this protection versus this look. Does the quarterback have enough information, history, experience to do it? The second part is the people. I really enjoy being around Jim Nantz, Jim Rikhoff and Tracy Wolfson. I didn’t realize quite how big of a team it was. It feels like a second pseudo-family and it’s fun to see them each week and get back and have dinner. Jim Nantz tells some incredible stories.

How did taking over at CBS compare to taking over in Dallas?

Well, one of them I’m throwing a football. The other one I’m not. With both, you really don’t know what you’re doing when you start off. I think that’s one comparison. Two, I think that you can learn quickly at both some of your weaknesses and make them strengths if you know what to look for. Then the third one, obviously, is just that you get to be in football and your knowledge of the game can really help you. The fact that I was coming into broadcasting after having studied it for so long helped a lot. I didn’t have that aspect when I came into football. It took a little more to gain that knowledge.

Which job has earned you more compliments from fans?

The fans are always great. I think when people come up to me, I get a little bit of both. I think it’s super nice just the fact that people are saying you did a good job in anything. Some tell me I was their favorite quarterback or some might say they really like me as an announcer. It just humbles you and makes you feel special that you did something good along the way.

What’s your most important piece of prep work?

Oh, the film study is as important as anything, but also just the interaction with me and Nantz and Tracy, and then Jim Rikhoff, our producer. That interaction before the game helps how things flow sometimes. The knowledge that you gain that specific week allows you not to have to do certain things.

Now, would you rather play in NFL games or call them?

Oh, at this point, I think my body would tell me that Mondays wouldn’t hold up anymore. I think my body’s telling me that it’s easier for me on Monday to just talk about the game.

Would you rather be calling NFL games or playing golf?

I love both. I love calling the games and I also enjoy playing golf. Calling the games is really fun. I’ve loved football my whole life, so the fact that I get to stay in football post-career is a really special gift.

Step Inside the Booth with the NFL's Best Broadcaster, Tony Romo
Tony Romo warms up prior to a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. (Mitchell Leff/Getty)

Are there any teams you enjoy watching most as a fan?

I really enjoy every team. There’s not one specific team that stands out. We’ve done so many Patriot games at CBS where I get Bill Belichick and that’s always enjoyable just to learn from him. He’s obviously a brilliant coach and his knowledge of the game is at such a high level. That part of communication is really enjoyable.

How much different is Belichick in your interviews?

I think coach Belichick’s decisions on how he does a lot of that stuff is just what he thinks is in the best interest of the Patriots. I think he knows that it’s just in the best interest of the Patriots to do things the way he does them. I think he’s been proven correct. I also enjoyed getting to talk to him just learning football. He’s got an incredible mind for the game and it’s been really enjoyable getting to know him.

Do you have the Jags and Packers in the Super Bowl again this year?

Definitely not going to double down on that! I think there’s no predicting the Super Bowl this year. I’m just going to wait and see who’s healthy and then we’ll give you a midseason prediction when I have a little bit better odds.

Could the Patriots be back in there this year?

Is that a joke? I think they have a shot at the Super Bowl every year, as long as Tom Brady’s breathing and out on that field, and Bill Belichick has prepared the team as head coach, I think they are going to be in the mix.

Do you think the Browns have improved as much as is being reported?

I think they have. They’ve gotten a lot of good, productive players. I think it’s really going to come down to their offensive line. Their offensive line played outstanding last year and I think that’s going to be key. If they play as well as they did at the end of the year, I think you’ll see the Browns have a successful season. If people get hurt or if they don’t have the same group playing at the same level, that would be the reason I think they wouldn’t.

Are there any young QBs who have impressed you?

I think Sam Darnold will have a pretty good breakout year this year. I said last year he’ll probably improve as the season goes on and you’ll see a monster leap at the end of the year or into year two.I think you’ll see that.

What’s your favorite food to enjoy with a Corona?

I like chips and dip, so I’m more of a queso guy. You feel like you’re in Mexico watching the game. I really enjoy sitting down watching football just like a normal fan. Obviously, I have to work some of the games, but if I get to have a Corona and sit down with chips and dip. I feel like it’s a perfect day.