Tony Romo: Role Realization and Acceptance

“Ultimately it’s about the team. Its what we've preached our entire lives. I can remember when I was a kid just starting out and wanting to be a part of something bigger than myself. For every high school kid out there or college player, there is greatness in being the kind of teammate who truly wants to be part of the team. Everyone wants to be the reason they’re winning or losing. Every single one of us wants to be that person. But there are special moments that come from a shared commitment to play your role while doing it together. That’s what you remember. Not your stats or prestige, but the relationships and achievement that you created with your group. It’s hard to do but there is great joy in that. And all the while your desire burns to be the best you’ve ever been. You can be both; I’ve figured that out in this process.” –Tony Romo

Tony Romo addressed the media Tuesday November 15 to confront for the first time since his injury, his job as QB1 for the Dallas Cowboys being taken by rookie, Dak Prescott. In watching, some will say Romo’s press conference was a little dramatic and more emotional than it needed to be. Some will say there was no need for a prepared statement and he should have addressed questions from the media. If you are anything like me, and I am not just saying a Dallas Cowboys fan and huge Tony Romo fan, you would agree with me in saying...that was a man’s press conference.

When it comes to sports, very few people know what it is like to play their respective game at the highest level. The hard work, dedication and sacrifice it takes for one to reach the pinnacle in their sport, is foreign to many. Then, in a matter of seconds having all that taken from you through something you have no control over, when you have had control your entire life.

My senior year at Cornell, when many would say I was at the pinnacle of my career up until that point, I broke my foot during the second game of the season. The purpose of this blog is not to talk about being injured and the emotional and physical pain that may ensue for the months to follow. However I want to touch on a part of Tony Romo’s speech that I highlighted above. I wanted to talk about the realization of being a part of something bigger than yourself through an appreciation for those around you.

In breaking my foot my senior year and being sidelined for the remainder of the season, for the first time during my time at Cornell my perspective changed of everything that was going on around me. I found myself at every practice, every workout, every film session, every meeting, but on game day I wasn’t out there on the field competing, something I had done every game since my freshmen year. It was a different feeling, and not one that I took a liking to, at first.

As the days flew by and the weeks passed, my appreciation of the 20 plus guys that never saw the field on game day grew bigger and bigger. I became one of those guys so I began to enjoy my time spent in those moments more, and stopped thinking of my injury as a negative but as a positive. A positive in that I was gaining new perspective and that I was so fortunate to be spending one more year with this incredible group of guys, creating memories that will last a lifetime. There are players that through out their entire college career, never start a game and maybe get into a game the number of times you can count on one hand. Yet, these players are part of the team and they are putting in the same effort day in and day out, for whatever task presents itself. Teammates like these, role players like these, are the real reasons the great teams become great.

In watching Tony Romo speak yesterday, the portion of his speech above, resonated with me right away. And this line in particular, “There are special moments that come from a shared commitment to play your role while doing it together.” When I look back on the best teams that I have played on, yes we won a lot of games because we had very talented players, but we had even greater role players. Player’s realization and acceptance their role is the most important step towards success. Tony Romo has accepted his role as QB2 because he realizes his team can be great, and that’s what is needed from him right now in order for that to happen.

Accepting your role goes for all facets of life. Yes sports are an easy example, but also your work team at the office, your family, and your friends. Realizing and accepting your role, in my opinion, is the key ingredient to teams becoming great.

For the young lacrosse players reading this article, know that your contributions to the team are not just seen on game day but in every day leading up to it. For those playing in HS or college and aren’t necessarily the best player on the team or injured, but still strive to be YOUR very best each day, you are just as important to the teams success as the guy that is out their scoring goals or making saves. Each team member’s commitment to this role is what separates good from great, and memories and relationships that last long after you’re done playing.

Cornell defeats Princeton in the Quarter Finals. Final Score: Cornell - 6 & Princteon - 4 ; NCAA Lacrosse Quarterfinals; Princeton Tigers vs. Cornell Big Red. Second Game on May 16, 2009 at Hofstra University in Uniondale, NY.

The greatest team I've ever played on: Cornell 09' National Finalists

Why: A senior class of 15 that accepted their role which then spread through out the team