Tony Romo and Jim Nantz

NFL fans are nearly unanimous in believing Tony Romo has regressed as a broadcaster. But Shannon Sharpe and others seem to think he came really close to getting banned from ever entering a broadcast booth again.

Romo was on the call for the AFC Championship Game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs on CBS, and his performance did little to quiet the critics. If anything, Romo fanned the flames.

During the fourth quarter, Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco was about to be tackled after a short gain,  but managed to bounce off three converging Bengals defenders, turning a short pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes into a huge play. Romo was predictably enthused as CBS showed the replay, but he stopped himself and made an abrupt pivot during his analysis, leaving social media to speculate on what he almost said.

“The extra yards. The tough yards. The finish on the play,” Romo said passionately. “Right there you got three ni…Talked about this. The best tackling team. They don’t miss tackles. And that could be the difference.”

Ehhhh ahhhh uhhhhh I don’t know Jim!

There is no part of me that believes Romo was about to kiss his broadcasting career goodbye by saying the word on national television. But social media seemed less confident, with Shannon Sharpe even appearing to suggest Romo was about to use the N-word to describe three Cincinnati Bengals defenders.

“It’s [TV]. You get hyped and forget sometimes where you are,” Sharpe tweeted.

Romo definitely gets hyped and there are certainly times where it seems like he may have forgotten that he’s speaking to a national audience, but I’d like to believe the N-word is nowhere near his vocabulary regardless of whether he’s on or off TV. But I’m also struggling to figure out where Romo was going with his analysis when he stopped himself abruptly.

Nickelbacks? Niners? Nervous? None of those make sense. But one thing Romo has taught us in recent years is there doesn’t really have to be a word that fits. Romo has added enough grunting and other incomprehensible sounds to his on-air repertoire over the years that maybe he wasn’t about to say a word at all. Maybe “ni…” was just that, part of a weird noise that we weren’t meant to understand.

[Van Lathan]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to