Tony Romo–Pay attention children

I have said on many occasions that every lesson a parent could teach their child can be gleamed from football. No, it is not life and death. Yes, it is a game. Yet in terms of inspiration, I want children 100 years from now to watch a copy of the Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills. I want them to learn about a 23 year old kid named Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were on the verge of defeating the Seattle Seahawks in a playoff game. All they had to do was kick a 23 yard field goal. Then the unthinkable happened. Tony Romo fumbled the snap. He tried to pick the ball up and make a play. He almost did. Yet he didn’t. Seattle won the game, Dallas was done, and sports had a new goat. Anybody can have character when times are good. Tony Romo showed character. He went to the press conference rather than hide from the media. He promised to erase the memory of this blunder.

Fast forwarding several months, Tony Romo brought the 4-0 Dallas Cowboys into a Monday Night Football game against the Buffalo Bills. On a national stage, Tony Romo had one of the most nightmarish games in NFL history. He had four interceptions in the first half alone. Two of them were returned for touchdowns. A kickoff return of a touchdown had Buffalo up 24-13 in the 4th quarter. After cutting the gap to 24-16, Tony Romo had a golden opportunity to redeem himself. Deep in Buffalo territory, he then…threw a 5th interception.

Yet Buffalo failed to capitalize. So Tony Romo was given yet another chance. He drove Dallas down the field, and a touchdown pass with only 20 seconds left cut the gap to 24-22. A two point conversion would tie the game. Yet it didn’t happen, and it appeared Dallas was done. However, a perfectly executed onsides kick followed by a couple perfect Romo passes led to a 52 yard field goal as time ran out. Two scores in 20 seconds resulted in a 25-24 Dallas shocker.

I hope that people who never grasp football can teach their children why the result of this game is relevant. The lessons are so obvious, but yet even the obvious can be obscured in a world of negativity.

Lesson number one is that failure is acceptable. Human beings fail. It is what makes us human. Accepting failure is what is not acceptable. Yes, this game had a happy ending, but if it did not, Tony Romo would try again next week. He failed last year, and he came back.

Every person I know has either failed at a job, a marriage, rearing a child, or trying to do what they were simply not able to do. They lost. They were not losers, but they lost. For those who lose a job, it is bad, but not as bad as losing a marriage. For those who have lost a marriage, it is horrendous, but not as bad as losing a life.

When we wake up in the morning, we are not dead. By definition alone, we have life. We have a chance. We all lose sight of this. I know I do. Heck, I lose perspective when a slow driver in front of me causes me not to beat a traffic light that turns red. I get angrier when that one car at that one light causes me to get to work at 9:01am instead of 8:59am.

Yet life is a series of knockdowns. Some people are blind. Others are deaf. Others are confined to wheelchairs. Yet I worry about being short and wearing glasses.

My father is a Holocaust survivor. He spent the first four years of his life being shot at. Needless to say, my having trouble in social studies class was not the end of the world.

Having said that, this does not mean we should ridicule others who feel pain. Telling a paraplegic to be happy that they are not a quadriplegic is not the answer. The answer is to lift people up, and give them the ability to life themselves up.

Although I am not a baseball fan, two games stand clear in my mind. One game just happened a few hours ago. The Yankees had their season end at the hands of the Cleveland Indians. Yankee Manager Joe Torre, who is about to be fired after every game for 12 years, might be fired for real this time. One of his last gestures was to tell the losing pitcher that losing this game did not invalidate all the great things that happened during the season. Again, the team lost, but they were not losers.

Another game had an ending that should never happen. In 1986, the California Angels were on the verge of defeating the Boston Red Sox for the right to go to the World Series. Angel pitcher Donnie Moore then threw the pitch that the Red Sox turned into the winning home run. The Red Sox won the Series, and the Angels were done. Then the nightmare scenario developed.

Donnie Moore was soon out of baseball. He fell into financial trouble. Within three years of almost reaching the pinnacle of success, he committed suicide.

Life should never have to be that way. Human beings…all human beings…are too important to have even one of them waste away. We are creatures of God. A piece of God dies when we do.

Life can leave us black and blue. Sometimes we feel like there is nothing but pain and misery. Yet some of my best moments in life have followed those black clouds. Losing a job and being nearly broke was followed by getting an even better job. A painful breakup was followed by meeting a woman I was much happier with.

I have said many times I have been lucky. Yes, being lucky helps. Yet so does digging deep down inside of us. Human beings often have time to pick themselves up. Football players do not have such luxuries. A quarterback that gets belted to the ground has about 40 seconds to be ready for the next play.

Yes, Tony Romo led a heroic comeback. However, had his comeback attempt failed he would still be a human being that matters. Tony Romo said last year that if the worst thing to ever happen to him would be losing a game, he would have led a good life.

If he means that, he is luckier and more well grounded than most.

I know that in the coming years, I will fail at things. I also know that I have a great family, and great friends. I will try not to let them down, and hope they do not let me down. Yet if any of us do, the lifting back up will be vital. If we do not, our children will suffer.

Children already have it rough. For one thing, public schools are a haven for making sure that children suffer. Some kids are fat, others are funny looking, but they are all one bad experience away from slipping through the cracks. As time goes by, to quote rocker Bret Michaels of Poison, “It just makes me wonder why so many lose and so few win. Give me something to believe in.”

I do believe in something. I believe in the dignity and resilience of the human spirit.

I also believe that lessons can be learned in unlikely places. One motivational speaker took a one hundred dollar bill, crumpled it up, stepped it on it, and mashed it. He then asked the audience if anybody still wanted it. They all did. Why? Because even crumpled up and near tattered, it still had value. It had worth.

So do we.

Tony Romo did not save the world. He did not win the War on Terror, cure cancer, or save a drowning animal.

What he did was fail repeatedly, and refuse to allow his failures to define him. He got up off of the mat, and eventually flourished. Beyond the score of the game, if one child gives one last extra effort in anything, whether it be a school paper or a sporting event, Tony Romo will have given a life lesson worth emulating.

Somebody buy Tony Romo a beverage. Then somebody make as many copies of this football game as possible, and let young kids know what they are capable of when they dig down deep and reach their God given potential.


No Responses to “Tony Romo–Pay attention children”

  1. greg says:

    Really well said. Great job!

  2. Kowboy says:

    Excellent Eric.

    If I may, I’d like to add one small thing. Romo had a “family” around him who didn’t abandon him when he needed them the most. They rallied around him and made sure he had the opportunity to come back. When you have that kind of support, it’s easier to get back up and try again.

    I’ve had that kind of support in my life. It’s a Godsend.

  3. Dave says:

    The Angels’ doomed pitcher in 1986 was Donnie Moore, not Abraham.

  4. 5secondrule says:

    Eric, Very nicely written and very healthy outlook!! Great job! As long as one also teaches children that they should not define themselves by exterior things, as majority of players do (i.e., cars, arm candy significant others, mansions, large “bling” diamond jewelry, or just delusional T.O.sized EGOs) These will never create a healthy adult.

  5. Chicago Ray says:

    Nice job about a good guy and example for others, sports have fewer and fewer today, but they (sports) are so valuable to learning and growing up in this country in my opinion, teaching discipline and teamwork along with many other fine and useful virtues.

  6. I watched that game while holding my breath the last 20 seconds which seemed interminable. What a great paen to mans perseverence. Nicely stated.

  7. Kathy says:

    Excellent post! Loved it all – except the painful reminder that we went to bed early convinced that Dallas had lost – only to have missed the excitement.

    Way to rub it in. LOL. 😉

  8. micky2 says:

    I would like to see and end to the “everybodys a winner”. Where every kid gets a trophy and we blur the line between true accomplishment and not so good performance. Our kids need to be taught the hard knocks in life and be given humiliation and sportsmanship to produce that spark of determination.

  9. cowboys4ever says:

    I trully believe that Tony counts his blessings everytime he walks on to the field. I have never seen a qb smile as much as he does when things are good or bad. Its kind of like “Im living a dream” why shouldnt i enjoy it every second of the day. I wish more people looked at life like that.

    Cowboys Chris
    Tony Romo fan.

  10. Dan says:

    Keep in mind it was actually two field goals at 52 yards–the infamous and lame time out called by Dicky put the rookie Nick Folk back out there to do it again…and he did.

    Memorable game.

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