IRVING, Texas -Allow me to freely admit I haven't watched a single second of New York Knicks basketball since point guard Jeremy Lin emerged as an out-of-nowhere star.
I'm certainly not DallasCowboys.com's basketball guru. Rob Phillips is on vacation this week.
But I do know a sensation when I see one, and in this month of February, so slow for NFL news, I know how to localize an otherwise unrelated story. From the outside looking in, it's easy to draw some comparisons between the meteoric rise of Lin, the national coverage he's received, and the same phenomenon that occured here in 2006, when a no-name quarterback took over the Cowboys.
Tony Romo used to be Jeremy Lin, an unknown player who emerged when his team most needed to catch lightning in a bottle. With the Cowboys sitting at .500 just six games into the season, Romo took over for Drew Bledsoe and won five of his first six starts. By Week 11 he had just about reached star status, leading an upset of then-undefeated Indianapolis. Four days later on Thanksgiving he threw five touchdown passes in a route of Tampa Bay.
The legend was born.
It was perpetuated by the media, in Romo's case because he was the quarterback of America's Team, in Lin's because he plays in the East Coast behemoth of NYC. Linsanity, Tebowmania, Romomentum, all very much the same, the big question being how long can these guys keep this up?
In the case of Lin and Tebow, there's no way to know. As for Romo, he rode the wave of surprise success into a Pro Bowl berth despite starting only nine games in 2006.
Then he came back in 2007 and he got even better, piloting the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, their best in 15 years and re-writing the team's single-season passing records.
In 2008 he improved on what was the biggest flaw in his game, cutting down on his interceptions.
In 2009 he did it again, producing a career year and winning the franchise its first playoff game since 1996.
Then 2010 brought an injury. The Cowboys were already just about dead, but the season came off life support when he broke his collarbone.
Last year, 2011, he returned from his injury and posted *another *career season.
Since he exploded on the scene in 2006, all Romo has done is get better. And yet the shine is off his star a bit. We hear from Cowboys fans every day who don't think he's the right guy to lead this team.
Imagine it's 2006, though, and you, Cowboys fan, are feeling a lot like Knicks fans are these days about Lin. How long can this guy keep it up? Is he a mirage? Too good to be true?
The Knicks should cross their fingers.