Jim Nantz Knew Tony Romo Was Going to Be ‘the Next Great Analyst’ Years Before CBS Did

Tony Romo had a pretty good NFL career but he probably got more notoriety than he might have deserved because he played for the Cowboys, who of course get more media attention than just about any other team in the league. That attention may have helped him land a high-profile and lucrative job after he retired from the league.

Upon retiring, Romo became the No. 1 analyst for CBS Sports’ NFL coverage, replacing another former NFC East quarterback, Phil Simms. And Romo’s broadcast partner, longtime CBS Sports personality Jim Nantz, recognized Romo’s potential in the booth long before he ever retired. And it was thanks to the Cowboys usually getting the network’s top broadcast team when they play a game on CBS,

Tony Romo’s NFL career

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Romo went to college at Eastern Illinois, which is a bit off-the-radar in terms of big-time college football, which is part of the reason he went undrafted in 2003. But the Cowboys took a chance on the young player, signing him as an undrafted free agent.

He wouldn’t get his first taste of NFL action, though, until 2006, when he took his first career snap in Week 5. The following week, Romo replaced starter Drew Bledsoe after halftime, and Romo got his first start in the next game.

In his career with the Cowboys, Romo would go on to make 127 starts. He completed more than 65% of his passes, throwing for 34,183 yards and 248 touchdowns with 117 interceptions. He led the Cowboys to the playoffs four times.

Jim Nantz knew Romo was “the next great analyst”

In an interview on Morten Andersen’s Great Dane Nation podcast, Nantz discussed Romo when asked how he knew the former Cowboy would be a good analyst.

The play-by-play announcer responded that he “knew at least four years before he came to the network, maybe longer than that.” Nantz talked about production meetings that the broadcasters have with quarterbacks before the games they’re going to call.

Nantz recalled that with Romo “there was this ball of energy that would stand up and show you a throwing motion, or he would simulate situations in anticipation of coming up on the broadcast on Sunday for us to look out for.”

Nantz acknowledges that when Romo explained things as well as he did, he thought to himself “this guy is the most animated, expressive player I’ve ever been around,” and Nantz told a lot of people that Romo is “going to be a great broadcaster one day.”

Nantz also told a story about golfing with NBC’s Al Michaels a few years before Romo joined CBS, and both long-time broadcasters agreed that Romo would succeed in the broadcast booth.

Tony Romo finds success at CBS

People questioned CBS making Romo the network’s No. 1 analyst as soon as he retired without prior broadcast experience, but it has worked out well for the quarterback and the network.

Pretty much right from the start, viewers and members of the media have lauded Romo for his analysis and ability to predict what play a team will run. It is also thought that Romo has reinvigorated Nantz, who seemed to fall into a lull late in his run with Simms.

Romo is so popular, in fact, that he was reportedly being courted by ESPN to go to Monday Night Football when his initial contract with CBS was up, but he re-signed with the network for a reported $17.5 million per year, which could mean a big payday for Nantz when he negotiates a new deal of his own.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference