One-time Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo retired from the NFL after the 2016-2017 season, and joined the NFL on CBS broadcast team just 3 months later.
Romo’s decision to join a sports network after retirement wasn’t particularly surprising. What was surprising was that CBS replaced its longtime No. 1 NFL game analyst Phil Simms with Romo, pairing him with the face of CBS Sports, Jim Nantz, and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson to call the top AFC game of the week.
There were critics of CBS Sports’ move, and understandably so. Romo had never called a live sporting event before, and the NFL on CBS broadcasts traditionally draw in the ~20+ million viewer range.
However, CBS Sports’ risk paid off, as Romo quickly proved a natural in the role even as a novice.
He brings a ton of enthusiasm, knack for prediction, a ton of off-the-field knowledge to each NFL broadcast, as well as an innate ability to explain football’s complexities in a concise and engaging way have made him a breath of fresh air.
And Romo’s positive rapport with Nantz is palpable.
However, Romo’s 3-year contract with CBS Sports — reportedly in the $3 million-$4 million range —will come to an end in a couple of months, meaning today’s AFC Championship between the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs could be Romo’s final broadcast as a CBS Sports analyst.
There will be a bidding war for Romo’s services in the off season.
ESPN is said to be CBS’ primary competition. The network’s Monday Night Football on-air pairings have proven inconsistent ever since Mike Tirico left ESPN for NBC Sports before the start of the 2016 NFL regular season, and Jon Gruden left the booth at the end of the 2017 NFL regular season to go coach the Oakland Raiders.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcasts could use a lift, and Romo would provide exactly that.
A number of sports media industry insiders believe CBS is expecting him to command a $10 million-per-year salary on his second contract. That would make him the highest-paid analyst since when John Madden —the gold standard of pro football TV analysts —was making $8 million per year in the 1990’s for Monday Night Football, when ABC, not ESPN, had broadcast rights to the legendary property.
However, there are reports swirling around out there that ESPN might be willing to offer Romo 6 or 7 years at $10 – $14 million. Those sound like contracts for the top TV newsers, not sports newsers.
That type of money would be difficult to pass up.
However, there are a number of reasons for Romo to stick at CBS:
A) CBS Sports’ Sunday NFL games nab roughly double what ESPN Monday Night Football games draw. More exposure on a weekly basis. B) Nantz has become a good friend of Romo’s, and the two have a great on-air rapport that the audience can sense. It’s tough to replicate that. C) CBS Sports has broadcast rights to a ton of golf tournaments, including the Masters. Romo is an extremely good golfer and passionate about the sport. No, he won’t replace Nick Faldo as the network’s top golf analyst, but there could be some other on-air opportunities there. D) There’s CBS Sports Network and CBS Sports HQ, meaning no shortage of general opportunities for Romo to contribute his knowledge across the sporting landscape, not just pro football or golf.
So yes, today’s AFC Championship game between the Titans and Chiefs could represent Tony Romo’s swan song as a CBS Sports broadcaster. ESPN will offer him a ton of money to join a legendary television franchise in Monday Night Football, and he’d be nuts not to at least listen.
On behalf of TVNewser’s sports media aficionados, we’ll keep our ears to the ground regarding the imminent tussle for Tony Romo, and provide you with updates when we receive them.
In the meantime, tell us where you think he’ll end up, and enjoy the games!