LeBron James finally won his championship on Thursday night when his Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals. Naturally, LeBron has been removed from the list of great players who never won a title, so now that attention has been turned to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Although he plays a different sport (albeit for James’ favorite NFL team), Romo will now have to deal with all those naysayers who can no longer make “no rings” jokes about LeBron.
Not that it will affect Romo; the Cowboys’ signal-caller has gradually developed a thicker skin and a calmer demeanor on and off the football field during his team’s past two disappointing season. Now that Dallas has upgraded its secondary – which many believe was the team’s most glary weakness in 2010 and 2011 – Romo is under even more pressure to deliver a winning season in Dallas. However, such comparisons to James are ridiculous.
Sure, Romo is a perennial 4,000-yard passer, but he doesn’t have three MVP awards and he hasn’t taken over games the way James has done in the NBA and led his team to any title appearances. Romo’s quick release may have been compared to Dan Marino’s, but he hasn’t been compared to a superstar, multi-championship-winning legend like Joe Montana. (LeBron shouldn’t be compared to Michael Jordan in any stretch of the imagination, but that’s a different Rant).
Even before James won his first title on Thursday, he’d led two different teams to an NBA Finals appearance. Romo hasn’t so much as sniffed a Super Bowl appearance, so the comparisons are simply ignorant at this point.
As mentioned, LeBron isn’t all of the sudden a legend. He has a long way to go before Jordan comparisons are even fathomable, but he’s leaps and bounds ahead of Romo. However, Romo now has the pieces around him to succeed, aside from a decent center, but once Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett realizes that second-year pro Kevin Kowalski is better than current starter Phil Costa that problem will be fixed as well. Thus, the pressure now mounts.
It shouldn’t, but it will and, as mentioned, it likely won’t affect Romo. The only hypothetical pressure will be added by armchair quarterbacks who now can’t pick on James anymore about his lack of winning.
James has led his teams to three second-place regular season finishes in his conference and two first-place finishes. Romo only has one first-place regular season crown in the NFC, and that was back in 2007 when the Cowboys had almost an entirely different team.
Plus, LeBron is truly and MVP-type player. In 2009, his Cleveland Cavaliers claimed the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 61-21 record. James was named the league’s MVP that season. In 2010, with James in Miami, the Cavaliers finished just 19-63 and dead last in the Eastern Conference. You can’t possibly think Romo is that valuable to the Cowboys.
That’s not to say Romo isn’t arguably the Cowboys’ MVP. His typical 300-yard passing performances have made Dallas’ offense a top-5 unit over the past half-decade. However, Romo hasn’t had any help until last season when DeMarco Murray broke onto the scene in resounding fashion, breaking Emmitt Smith’s franchise single-game rushing record in his first NFL start. Now that Murray is a quality, workhorse pro rusher, Romo is expected to be even better.
So the comparisons to James aren’t valid…yet. One player can dominate in basketball – a game where everyone plays offense and defense and there are only five players on the floor at a time. Romo doesn’t play defense – which was really the only thing that held Dallas back the past two seasons – so all the blame can’t be placed on him. However, if Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr live up to expectations, Romo will have no more excuses not to succeed.
Of course, the Cowboys are always over-hyped thanks to the team’s loudmouth owner, Jerry Jones. But this team went 8-8 last season and blew four 12-point, fourth-quarter leads. Take those away (which theoretically Claiborne and Carr will) and the Cowboys were a 12-4 team in 2011. If everything goes right in 2012, Romo should accomplish enough to maybe make those LeBron comparisons halfway legit.