Tony Romo was predictably mobbed by reporters Wednesday morning at CBS Sports’ NFL media day in Midtown Manhattan, a sort of television up-front where all the NFL on CBS studio analysts and broadcasters preview the upcoming season.
Romo, of course, will be CBS’s lead NFL analyst for both the Sunday and Thursday packages, calling the network’s top games alongside Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson. He’ll be taking over for Phil Simms, who held the position since CBS regained the rights to the NFL in 1998.
After the wave of reporters coming up to Romo subsided, he spoke to Awful Announcing in between bites of a turkey and cheese sandwich about his greatest challenges as a rookie broadcaster, how to make calls to relate to the common fan and what it’ll be like analyzing players and coaches he played with or against just last season.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Is this job now different from what you thought it would be when you accepted the lead analyst position in April?
I honestly didn’t think anything about it. I didn’t know what to think coming in. So I really didn’t know where to look. Like am I gonna look at the field? Am I gonna look at a monitor? So everything has been kinda new, but I went in with a clean slate. I didn’t go on pre-determining anything or trying to think about what it should be or shouldn’t be. And let it [the process] kind of show you. So that’s kinda been the way it’s working so far.
Now that you’ve had a couple of practice games under your belt, what has the biggest challenge been so far?
Everything. The biggest challenges have been just operationally. Figuring out how I’m gonna make a board. How to use the telestrator. How to look. Where my eyes are gonna be on plays. So I’m trying to develop that a little bit and feel comfortable.
How have you developed that?
Through repetition. Through analyzing yourself, going back and remembering what you were thinking at a certain time [and thinking] “I should’ve done this, but why didn’t I?” and then think about what you were thinking about at that moment. And the next time that comes in, make a lot of notes, think about it and practice it.
Have you thought about analyzing, talking to and meeting players and coaches you used to play against or with? What’s that dynamic going to be like for you?
I don’t think that’ll be that hard. I think the game calls itself. If guys are playing good, you talk about it. If someone’s struggling, you could talk about it. It’s not like you’re making stuff up. The game kinda plays itself out speaking to the viewers. You guys know it and I know more detail about it, and I’ll give you background on that stuff, what’s important. Like where that guy’s eyes should be or what his leverage should be. But it’s not like I’m saying things that you can’t tell with the naked eye.
Is there a challenge in being too complex? You’re used to being with the Cowboys and saying things in football jargon that the fans can’t relate to. Is it hard trying to make it more relate-able to the common fan watching on TV?
I think that’s an important part of being an analyst, is being able to relate to my aunt who’s watching in the same way I’m relating to Jason Witten, who’s watching a given game. So you want to be able to do a little bit of all that. So hopefully I do a good job of creating that environment.
Last question: How long do you think it’s going to take you to what people would consider at top form, or what you’d consider to be top form?
That’s a good question. I don’t really have a date on it. I don’t have, like, a time frame. I’m just hoping that I develop, continue to get better each week I do it. But I’m not putting a timetable, whether it’s week one or year two.