Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo might not be the first two names people think of when they think of similar players in sports. But their history goes back many years. Despite a large age gap and a decade separating their time at the same high school, their legacies are inextricably linked. By looking at their stories, we learn how similar the two quarterbacks are despite all of their differences.
Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo’s shared history
When Garoppolo went to Eastern Illinois, he knew that there was one person that he’d have to overcome if he wanted to be the big man on campus, reports Business Insider. Coming in the aftermath of Romo’s rise to prominence, Garoppolo suddenly had NFL players to look up to as he tried to forge his path toward greatness. A former teammate spoke of his ambitions.
“When he got to school his freshman year, Jimmy wrote down every single passing record at the school in a notebook,” former teammate Adam Gristick said in an interview with The Athletic. “He didn’t tell anybody about that. He wrote those down freshman year, and he broke every single one. That quiet confidence about him is a pretty cool dynamic to study.”
It was also a difficult one. Garoppolo memorized these records and made sure to compete with the college’s most prominent star in history. He broke several of Romo’s records at the school despite spending most of his first two years in high school as a linebacker. Still, with Eastern Illinois on the map and Romo dominating in the NFL, Garoppolo may have benefited from Romo’s rise to fame.
While Romo had to watch the entire draft unfold without hearing his name, Garoppolo had to wait for the second round. He spent several years watching Tom Brady before ending up in San Francisco.
Living in a shadow
While the two aren’t known to have a personal relationship, both parties have spoken positively about their counterparts. Romo has taken to Twitter several times to praise Garoppolo and his rise to greatness. Garoppolo has spoken publicly about his love and respect for Romo and the path he forged for young quarterbacks like him. According to the Providence Journal, he said:
“You hear about him a lot. You think Eastern Illinois and it’s kind of Tony Romo-Sean Payton type of thing and it’s well deserved. He set the standard for quarterbacks at that school. Going there, it was a big reason why you wanted to break his records. Look up to the name and everything. Things worked out pretty well.”
While both quarterbacks have found NFL success, Garoppolo still has an opportunity to do something that Romo hasn’t done. Win a Super Bowl as a starter.
Can Garoppolo usurp Romo as Eastern Illinois’ biggest player?
Romo had a long, successful career for an undrafted quarterback. However, while he played great football every time he was healthy, the Cowboys’ continued brushes with mediocrity meant that he never saw a Super Bowl. Garoppolo, who has two rings from the sideline as Tom Brady’s former backup, led the 49ers to the Super Bowl loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.
To take over Romo’s spot as the best Eastern Illinois alum, he will need to make up some room. At nearly 30 years of age, Garoppolo has only played in more than six games once in his career. Despite his single season as a full-time starting quarterback. Garoppolo’s inability to stay out on the field could cost him, reports Fansided.
Regardless of what happens, however, Garoppolo still has someone to look up to. If there’s one thing that Romo did better than everything else, it was proving doubters wrong each time he took the field. Perhaps, this can be the next way that his fellow Eastern Illinois alum can stay in the NFL.