Tony Romo: “It’s about time that we go to that next step. I think our team is going to be ready for that.”

April 13, 2012 – 8:45 am by Steven Cuce

Tony Romo had one of the best individual seasons of his career last season by throwing for 4,184 yards and 31 touchdowns despite playing several weeks with broken ribs and a bruised throwing hand. The Cowboys crumbled yet again, though, after putting themselves in great position at the start of December. Dallas lost four of their final five games, including two losses to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.

The unfortunate part of Romo’s career thus far is that he is recognized as much, if not more, for his failures as he is for his accomplishments. As a die-hard Cowboys fan I will point out that No.9 hasn’t exactly had a championship defense to give him any breaks over the years as he’s asked to do it all. Romo, who recently became a father earlier this week, feels lucky to be in this position and knows what’s important in his life off the field. At the same time he doesn’t look back in the past and is hungrier than ever to reach the top of the mountain and become a Super Bowl Champion.

Tony Romo joined ESPN Dallas with Ben & Skin to discuss looking forward to the 2012 season, the moment where he learned to forget the past and live in the present, his take on bountygate with the New Orleans Saints and Gregg Williams, never hearing a locker room speech quite like the one Gregg Williams had leaked last week and the way he would like to be remembered for his NFL career.

Are you fully focused on looking forward and if so I am just wondering when you think about your football team what is the first thing you are thinking about right now?

“It’s all going forward. I mean, to be good or great at what you’re trying to do athletically or in sports, you’ve got to have a singular focus about what’s next. That’s good and bad. Whether something great’s just happened, you have to put that behind you and just move on, because you have to go do it again. Something bad happens, you have to learn from it, put it behind you, get better from it and then move right on. I think that’s our approach. When I look at just myself, it’s about how can I improve? How can I get better? How can I bring my teammates along with me? How can they get better and our football team can take that next step? We’re doing some things that I think will allow us to do that. I am excited about some of the things that we’ve got going on. I think we’re going to be an improved football team next year. It’s about time that we go to that next step and I think our team is going to be ready for that.”

When did you realize that you have to focus on moving forward from the past when you think about things?

“You never really get over letdowns. You just use them as a tool to get better. I think what you do is you don’t basically use it as a crutch. There’s a couple different ways you can go mentally when things don’t go your way. One of them is just to sulk and have pity about either, ‘Why me?’ or ‘How come we’re not good enough?’ or ‘How come we didn’t get the job done?’ and all that. The other side is, ‘OK, why?’ You just say, ‘Why wasn’t our team good enough?’ or ‘Why wasn’t I good enough?’ or ‘How can we do things to get better?’ And you analyze it and you learn from it. Every time you can do that, you get better the next time. And if you just continually get better one day you are going to have the opportunity to have yourself in a position to be good enough to do things you are going to do and your team is going to be good enough. When that happens it will all come together at the right time and that’s the team you are looking for. Our team is going down that path. I think we are getting to a point where we are going to have some pieces in place to help us quite a bit and we’re going to have a chance.”

I’m guessing for some time you know guys are gunning for you. What did you make of bountygate with the New Orleans Saints and Gregg Williams?

“From a quarterback’s perspective, you just assume that they’re always trying to get big hits on you. I mean, it’s no different than we played, I want to say Washington, after I hurt my ribs and a big emphasis that week was probably trying to hit me hard. I don’t know if that’s any different from that perspective. Now, I do agree that there’s no spot in the game basically for extra incentive money-wise. I think that people are trying to win the game; they’re trying to do just what they need to do within the rules. I think that Roger Goodell has done a great job of just handling all the situations and coming down on some of the people that were involved. Some of it seems very harsh, and others not so much. Just part of it.”

Did the stuff that Gregg Williams say in the leaked audio speech seem way over the top from anything you have heard in the locker room?

“Well I think I have heard it from some different people, but 90% of that stuff is getting your guys to play a physical game and you need to play physical especially from a defensive standpoint to basically have an emotional edge to lay your body on the line to do some of the things it takes to be good. Like you said though some of them are overboard. I think that that’s something that needed to be addressed. I thought the NFL did their part in addressing that, and I don’t envision us having those things going forward. It just was part of the landscape. And the way that the NFL is going, they care about player safety and that’s a good thing. I mean, I know that sometimes from the outside looking in, it can be that they’re taking certain things away, but the game is still very super physical. I think that the little things that they do here and there are only a positive for the game. Believe me when I tell you that the game of football is not becoming a point where it’s turning into something that it’s never been. It’s still a very, very physical game.

How would you like to be remembered? What would you want your newborn son to know about your football career?

“Well number one I would like to think my son is going to look at me as a father first. That’s my objective with him is to be a great father, spiritual leader of our family and just a man who does things the right way and can teach him along the way.  I think for me from a football perspective it’s me being good as I can be. And when I say that I’d like to think that the bar is pretty high and I can get to a level that’s very high. To me that’s what I would like to look back or anybody who looks on my career is that I achieved my potential and what I was able to get to with where my bar was at. Now saying that obviously the Super Bowl is obviously the biggest team accomplishment, and also as a quarterback, it’s what we’re defined as. I think for me that would be the one obvious (thing) that you play the game for. All the hours and the sweat and the time that you do and those tough moments when I’m by myself doing what I do, that’s what you think about.  You don’t rest until you feel that accomplishment. I think that for me, that’s always going to be there. That’s going to be a very singular-driven focus. That’s the way I am, and that’s the way it’s going to be until that happens. That’s the way I’d like to be remembered in those different aspects.”

Listen to Tony Romo on 103.3 ESPN Dallas here

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