LOVERRO

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - THOM LOVERRO

But in Dal­las, Romo’s home city, the Dal­las Morn­ing News re­pub­lished a col­umn that Rick Gos­selin wrote a year ear­lier that said Romo “isn’t even close” to Hall of Fame wor­thy.

There may be no more con­fus­ing de­bate in all of sports to­day than what makes some­one a Hall of Famer. It is clearly a sub­jec­tive de­ci­sion, based on what­ever cri­te­ria one de­vel­ops to de­ter­mine who is wor­thy of such an honor.

Or sim­ply, it may come down to this — did you think of this par­tic­u­lar player as a Hall of Famer when he played? I never thought of Romo that way, and was sur­prised by the re­ac­tion of those in the cigar shop who thought his elec­tion would be a no brainer.

I talked with col­league Todd Dy­bas about this in the press box at Na­tion­als Park, and he men­tioned Tracy McGrady — a good il­lus­tra­tion of this con­flict.

McGrady was just elected to the Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame, per­haps the eas­i­est one to get in among the halls of honor.

I never thought of Tracy McGrady as a Hall of Famer. But his re­sume is sur­pris­ingly strong — a seven-time NBA All-Star, a two-time league scor­ing cham­pion, and a two-time All NBA first team se­lec­tion. He was drafted in the first round (ninth over­all) by the Toronto Rap­tors right out of high school in 1997 and, over 16 seasons, av­er­aged 19.6 points points per game.

I still don’t think McGrady is a Hall of Famer — and nei­ther is Tony Romo.

Those who be­lieve Romo, who will be 37 later this month, is a Hall of Fame will point to his statis­tics. “Num­bers don’t lie,” Giglio wrote. But I would ar­gue that num­bers in­deed do lie — es­pe­cially when it comes to pass­ing statis­tics in to­day’s NFL.

Here are those Romo num­bers that don’t lie — 2,829 com­ple­tions in 4,335 at­tempts, a 65.3 com­ple­tion per­cent­age, a to­tal of 34,183 yards, 278 touch­downs and 117 in­ter­cep­tions over 13 seasons. Those are im­pres­sive num­bers — but also in­flated num­bers, as are all pass­ing statis­tics in this of­fen­sive gift­ing, de­fen­sive hand­cuff­ing era of pro­fes­sional foot­ball.

Even if you chose to ig­nore the in­fla­tion fac­tor in Romo’s num­bers and com­pare them to quarterbacks in Can­ton from other eras, they are still not good enough to over­come a ca­reer de­fined by post­sea­son fail­ures — some of them em­bar­rass­ing in just six play­off games, four of them losses.

But, for the sake of ar­gu­ment, let’s take Romo’s num­bers at face value and put him in the Hall of Fame mix. Since 1946, there have been 26 quarterbacks who have en­tered Can­ton.

Let’s look at the quarterbacks who are likely ahead of Romo, both re­tired and still ac­tive, in the Hall of Fame line — Pey­ton Man­ning, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Eli Man­ning, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roth­lis­berger, Aaron Rodgers – maybe even Carson Palmer, who has 285 ca­reer touch­down passes and count­ing. What about quarterbacks who are com­pa­ra­ble to Romo sta­tis­ti­cally but who had more post­sea­son suc­cess dur­ing their ca­reers — like Boomer Esi­a­son or Drew Bled­soe? And what about those younger quarterbacks whose ca­reers may eclipse Romo’s – like Rus­sell Wil­son, Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco?

That’s a lot of quarterbacks — 14, more than 50 per­cent of those who have been elected oved a 71-year span — who are ei­ther ahead of Romo or at least shar­ing the same place in line.

Heck, I think the guy Romo is re­plac­ing in the booth — Phil Simms, with his 199 ca­reer touch­down passes and 33,462 yards pass­ing over a 14-year ca­reer, from 1979 to 1993 — is more wor­thy for en­try into Can­ton than Romo. See Su­per Bowl XXI — Simms’ record set­ting per­for­mance, with 22 com­ple­tions in 25 at­tempts for 268 yards pass­ing, three touch­downs, no in­ter­cep­tions and a 150.9 quar­ter­back rat­ing.

Of course, none of these other quarterbacks played for the Dal­las Cow­boys (save for Bled­soe at the end of his ca­reer). That adds a warped sense of value to his re­sume.

Romo sup­port­ers will ar­gue that his De­cem­ber num­bers are Hall of Fame wor­thy, but’s it’s the Jan­uary — and now Fe­bru­ary — statis­tics that give you a bust in Can­ton. It’s why Troy Aik­man, with three Su­per Bowl rings, is in the Hall of Fame and why Romo may not be, even though he broke nearly all of Aik­man’s team pass­ing records.

If you are go­ing to over­come the stigma of post­sea­son fail­ure, your ca­reer reg­u­lar season num­bers bet­ter be over­whelm­ing. Romo’s are not. Put that cigar out.

● Thom Loverro hosts his weekly pod­cast “Cigars & Curve­balls” Wed­nes­days avail­able on iTunes, Google Play and the re­Volver net­work.

While I was sit­ting around the other day at Sig­na­ture Cigars in Rockville — one of the places I go to get the pulse of the peo­ple — sev­eral broth­ers of the leaf talked about the news that Dal­las Cow­boys quar­ter­back Tony Romo was re­tir­ing to join Jim Nantz in the CBS broad­cast booth for NFL games.

“He’s a Hall of Famer,” one guy said. “Maybe not first bal­lot. But he’s a Hall of Famer.”

To which I thought to my­self, “Are you se­ri­ous?” Tony Romo is one of the great­est quarterbacks in the his­tory of the Na­tional Foot­ball League? What was in that cigar he was smok­ing? Well, as it turns out, he’s not alone. Fol­low­ing Romo’s an­nounce­ment, his place in Can­ton be­came the source of de­bate on sports pages and web sites around the coun­try.

NJ.com colum­nist Joe Giglio made the case that Romo is “a quar­ter­back that has HOF cre­den­tials” and “should get se­ri­ous Hall of Fame con­sid­er­a­tion.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer Dal­las Cow­boys quar­ter­back Tony Romo has 2,829 com­ple­tions in 4,335 at­tempts, 34, 183 yards, 278 touch­downs and 117 in­ter­cep­tions over 13 seasons.

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