The move by CBS to replace Phil Simms with broadcasting rookie Tony Romo has certainly made waves throughout the sports media. The consensus seems to be that while the vast majority of people are optimistic about Romo’s future in broadcasting, it’s a significant gamble that CBS is taking. We’ve seen people like Bonnie Bernstein and Boomer Esiason speak out about how difficult the transition is while there’s a history of high profile analyst moves that haven’t worked out as planned.
Former ABC and CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf knows what it’s like to be a top-tier analyst after serving many years as part of the Monday Night Football team. And the current Michigan football analyst shares a similar sentiment about Romo’s future.
Dierdorf spoke to Talk of Fame Sports about the decision by CBS and the risk factor involved:
“It’s hard,” he said of broadcasting. “It’s hard work. It takes a special person, and when I say ‘special,’ I mean … you’re juggling a lot of balls in the air at the same time. You’re talking to America. You’re trying to make a point, (and) you have to be concise when you do it. You have a producer and/or a director talking to you at the same time in your ear, and it really befuddles lots of people who have tried it.
“Yeah, Tony has a fantastic personality. He’s eloquent. He has a fun demeanor to him that will translate. I think people will really like it. But it’s impossible to tell whether or not he’s going to be able to handle what it takes to be a successful broadcaster.
“If I learned one thing in 30 years, you just never knowing going in who’s going to be good and who’s not going to be good. CBS is taking a real chance in someone who’s never been in a broadcast booth before and putting him on that stage. It’s a roll of the dice.”
You don’t have to look too far into the distant past to find someone who everyone thought would be a home run hire and guaranteed success on television but didn’t pan out as expected. When Ray Lewis retired all of the networks were salivating over his television potential. He seemingly had it all to be a great television analyst – the personality, the charisma, the knowledge, etc. ESPN won the race to sign him as an analyst but he flamed out rather quickly. Lewis’ career in Bristol was more noteworthy for bizarre moments and analysis than anything else before the network decided to move in another direction.
That’s what makes Dierdorf’s comments so spot on. There have been numerous people over the years who were thought to be shoe-ins to be great TV analysts for a long time. There have been others who were met with a collective yawn that turned out to be stars. Until the red light goes on, there’s really no way of knowing either way.
Obviously there’s no guarantee Romo is going to be the next Ray Lewis or Joe Montana, but there’s also no guarantee that he’s going to be the next Cris Collinsworth. It’d be one thing if Romo started out as the #2 or #3 analyst for a year before moving to the top spot, but CBS isn’t wasting any time by having him directly replace Phil Simms to broadcast the biggest games every week. And that’s why it is such a gamble by CBS to throw him into the deep end of the pool without knowing whether or not he can even swim.