Don't hate Romo because his girlfriend chirps Print
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Thursday, 11 September 2008 13:58
NFL Headline News

 Evidence that celebrity girlfriends can be hazardous to a career dates at least as far as Samson and Delilah. On the other hand, a succession of them doesn't appear to have slowed down Derek Jeter. Either way, it's not as if Tony Romo didn't know the tabloids were going to have a field day.
When the sports and entertainment worlds intersect, there's never enough perspective to go around. Seeing the people blessed with big muscles squiring around the ones who inherited good teeth makes the rest of us flash back to high school. Not always a good thing. So when Jessica Simpson signed off her appearance on ``Good Morning America'' the other day by taunting Eagles fans that the Cowboys would kick their butts come Monday night, you know what just about everybody who doesn't already hate ``America's Team'' started thinking:
``We are all Eagles fans. Go Philly! And while you're at it, kick Romeo's butt!''
Fans will recall this isn't the first time Simpson affixed a big ``kick-me'' sign to her boyfriend's backside. A video of the two canoodling on a sun-splashed beach in Mexico during the Cowboys' playoff bye week last January raised quite a ruckus. And after the Giants went into Dallas and won shortly after, the people who whined Romo should have been studying film instead of starlets had all the proof they needed.
The New York Post, which hired a Simpson-impersonator at considerable expense and sat her a few rows behind the Cowboys' bench, even crowed: ``She must have made the difference - Romo's final drive was stopped short of the end zone.'' Whatever.
Romo probably wishes Simpson chose her spots a little more carefully - two of the worst clunkers on his impressive resume have come against the Eagles at home. But as we said, he knows it comes with the territory.
When the subject of Simpson's trash-talking came up Wednesday at his weekly media session, Romo raised his hands in a defensive posture and smiled, good-naturedly letting reporters know his ``nothing-personal, just-football'' interview policy was still in effect. What he didn't mind discussing was how hard he'd worked during the offseason to stop scampering around the pocket - a condition known as ``happy feet'' - every time a defense brings pressure.
That's because Romo knows that his improvement in that department will have a lot more to do with the Cowboys' performance against Philly than all the jinxes in the world. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is a certified genius at blitzing. We're going to find out whether the kid really did his homework, whether he's able to handle distractions a lot more perilous than any Simpson can cause him.
``They're not going to let you go through your stuff,'' Romo said about the Eagles earlier in the week. ``You've got to work fast. Teams that do that also give you a chance to create big plays if you know their personnel or if you know what they're trying to hope for.''
Romo came into the league with a gunslinger's mentality and way too often, he took that pressure as an invitation to scramble - with mixed results. Now, with a little seasoning, he's hoping to exploit it, not just by standing in the pocket longer, but standing farther back, and buying himself more time to make his reads and make better plays. Just like the playoff loss to the Giants and the two against the Eagles at home, his success will hinge in large part on whether Romo's offensive line and running backs do their jobs, too.
dart Philly's way, saying that while he's willing to acknowledge that Donovan McNabb made him a better receiver during the time with the Eagles, ``I think Donovan would have a hard time admitting I made him a better quarterback.''
Owens also said his popularity with Eagles fans ruffled McNabb's feathers, then answered a question about the shift of power in the NFC East from Philadelphia to Dallas this way: ``The common denominator was me being in both places, but I will let you make that assessment.''
Perhaps because he's got some skin - his own - in the game, Eagles fans haven't lit up the boards at the talk radio stations to rip T.O. the way they did Simpson. Maybe they figure the Eagles' defense will take care of that; Philly, after all, is the same place that cheered long and loud when Michael Irvin, another trash-talking Cowboy receiver, lay on the turf after getting knocked down and had to be stretchered off.
If fans needed another reminder to be careful what they wish for, here it is: The NFL is getting faster and tougher by the year, and injuries are piling up at an alarming rate. Three quarterbacks went down on the opening weekend, following a 2007 season in which 64 QBs started games, exactly half of them because of injuries. According to research by STATS, those injuries cost teams a collective 133 man-games.
More backup QBs mean more limited offenses, which means more boring football for everybody. So just because Romo's girlfriend likes to chirp is no reason to be a hater. Besides, Tom Brady's girlfriend, Gisele Bundchen, was the very supermodel of discretion, and look at what good it did him.
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at

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