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In the world of professional sports, certain jobs carry a little extra prestige. No fan, for example, grew up dreaming of being the sixth man on the Orlando Magic; you want to play quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or bat clean-up for the New York Yankees. During his time in the NFL, Tony Romo was lucky enough to lead America’s Team onto the field more than 120 times.

While Romo himself obviously reaped the rewards from his success, his NFL career meant even more to his grandparents. By taking charge of the Dallas Cowboys, Tony had fulfilled his family’s American Dream.

Tony Romo’s football career

When you imagine a marquee quarterback, you probably imagine someone who dominated at a traditional college powerhouse, like Alabama or LSU. Tony Romo’s road to the NFL, however, was a bit different.

After high school, Romo didn’t head to the SEC or the Big Ten; instead, he enrolled at Eastern Illinois University. Although the Panthers might not be a big-name program, the quarterback still found plenty of statistical success. According to EIU’s official website, Romo threw for 8,212 yards and 85 touchdowns during his three seasons under center.

Those stats, however, weren’t enough to catch the attention of any NFL executives. When the 2003 draft rolled around, Romo never heard his name announced; he ended up signing a free-agent deal with the Dallas Cowboys and started his career as the third-string quarterback.

In 2006, however, everything changed. Romo seized the starting job from Drew Bledsoe; he would remain under center until injuries forced him to retire in 2017. While the Cowboys never made it over the hump, their quarterback wasn’t to blame for their failures. Over the course of his 127 starts, Romo threw for a total of 34,183 yards and 248 touchdowns. That’s not bad for an undrafted quarterback out of Eastern Illinois.

Living the American Dream on America’s Team

Obviously, spending a decade as the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback was a boon for Tony Romo. His success, however, meant something more to his family.

As laid out by David Flores of, Romo’s paternal grandfather, Ramiro Romo Sr., was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States. Seeing Tony, whose full name is Antonio Ramiro Romo, take charge of arguably the NFL’s most famous team, seemed like something out of a movie.

“I thought of how far we’ve come, not only as a family, but as a people,” Ramiro Sr. told Flores in Spanish. “I remembered the hard times in Mexico and how I struggled when I first got here. It’s like coming from zero to where we are today. All of that went through my mind.”

For the Romos, Tony was proof that the American dream exists. Ramiro Sr. moved to the United States; his son, Ramiro Jr., served in the Navy. Tony then became the starting quarterback of America’s team.

“I’ve always said this is a country of opportunities,” Ramiro said. “Only in America.”

Tony Romo is still living the dream in retirement

As every football fan knows, Tony Romo hasn’t taken the field as an NFL quarterback in a few years. Instead, his American Dream has continued in the broadcast booth.

While plenty of professional athletes find themselves behind the microphone, Romo has avoided the standard pitfalls and developed into a star. Working alongside Jim Nantz, the former quarterback is able to strike the perfect balance between informing and entertaining; Romo can break down exactly what happened—or should have happened—on a given play, without subjecting the viewers to a drab lecture. CBS have already noticed his talents and rewarded him with a massive, $17 million-per-season contract.

If all you only knew Tony Romo from his professional career, it might seem like he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. For the quarterback’s family, however, his success is the culmination of their American Dream.

Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference