As Jim Nantz gets set to call his third Super Bowl alongside Tony Romo for CBS, he’ll do so feeling like everything is great.
Nantz joined the latest episode of Jimmy Traina’s Sports Illustrated Media Podcast. During the interview, the renowned CBS play-by-play voice was asked if he’s bothered by the backlash often directed at Romo.
“Never had one conversation with Tony about it,” Nantz said. “I take it kind of as a forgone conclusion that everybody gets it.”
While Nantz might not pay attention or even be aware to the level of criticism being directed at Romo in recent seasons, he certainly wasn’t caught off guard to learn it exists.
“I’ve assumed it. I just assumed it,” Nantz continued. “No, I’m not aware that it’s ratcheted up more this year if that’s what you’re telling me. Now people will say, ‘Don’t people send you sometimes clips or something on Twitter?’ Sure, but how I would get from there to see what people are saying about Tony, no. I wouldn’t even think about it. I’m going to use my own judgement of how the broadcasts are going. And I couldn’t be happier.”
Take a quick scroll through Twitter or do a Google search for ‘Tony Romo’ during a game they’re calling, however, and it will show that fans have been happier. Once deemed the next John Madden, the lure of Romo has faded in recent seasons, with his previously lauded predictions becoming less impressive and his enthusiasm seeming over-the-top. But Nantz isn’t on Twitter, and from his vantage point, which is undoubtedly an important one, things are still great.
“I love working with Tony,” Nantz insisted to Traina. “Our chemistry is great. Our time together is just like it is on the air. We have a lot of laughter, a lot of fun. We see silliness, sometimes we bring that silliness to the air. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s humor. But no, I don’t want to say any more about it because you’re asking me something that I’m not familiar with. We’re trying the best we can. I know we’ve had a super year and I really feel good about it going into the game.”
The criticism of the lead NFL booth for CBS isn’t even about their chemistry. It sounds like they enjoy each other’s company, and no one assumes Nantz loathes Romo or vice versa. But when Romo started in the booth, his energy was different, his ability to foresee plays was groundbreaking, and his explanations were informative. In recent seasons, fans have become more likely to mock Romo’s energy than they are to feed off it.
The often-toxic nature and tribal mentality of social media can certainly welcome criticism and promote a snowball effect. Romo isn’t as bad as fans on Twitter might portray on any given Sunday, but he’s not as popular as he was when CBS signed him to an industry altering 10-year $180 million contract in 2020 either.