room like the teammate who might have dropped a crucial pass or fumbled away the potential game-winning possession or failed to make the tackle in the hole on the game-winning touchdown run.
Oh no, you are going to the podium and you are going to answer questions. And you had better be as affable as possible. The quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys can have a bad performance, although too many has him packing, but he absolutely can't have a bad day. That would be national news.
Getting the picture?
Now this is nothing new. I saw Danny White go through this. I saw Troy Aikman go through this. The old-timers will tell you how they watched Don Meredith and Roger Staubach go through this 1,000-watt scrutiny in that inherited fishbowl of theirs.
So here was Romo this week, calm and collected, smiling his way through answering as many inane questions as can be posed to one 27-year-old man about some game. His composure in the locker room is only matched by his composure in the pocket.
My gosh, how many times he was asked if he will be intimidated having to play Favre, the quarterback most sense he grew up in Burlington, Wis., idolizing? How many times he was asked if he will have to prevent himself from trying to do too much so he can outplay the quarterback he can impersonate walking and throwing?
Was sort of surprised no one asked him if he would just as soon lose the game so the mighty and much-worshipped Brett Favre can have a better chance of going out a winner this season. Although, someone did ask Romo if he ever wore a Cheesehead growing up in Wisconsin during the time Favre was cutting his NFL teeth. No sense lying if he had. Someone surely would have produced a picture on YouTube.
Nothing, though, unraveled Romo. He'd smile. He'd deflect. He'd become self-deprecating. He'd even verbally tap dance at times, with sincerity, though. But he never let 'em see him sweat.
In a moment of weakness, though, as if having sipped truth serum, he admitted, after all, "I'm trying to beat this guy," meaning he can't be acting as if he is in awe of Brett "Freakin'" Favre.
And when pressed about this game being more than * the biggest game just because it's the next game*, Romo did admit away from the glaring lights, "It's going to be special because they're 10-1. It's special because you grew up rooting for (the Packers).
"Sure, it feels like a big game. But every week there seems to be a new set of reasons it's a big game."
Gotta prove you're over the dropped snap.
Gotta prove you can beat the Bears on the road.
Gotta prove you can play with the Patriots.
Gotta prove you can beat the big, bad Eagles in Philly.
Gotta beat the Giants to wrestle away the division's head-to-head tiebreaker.
Gotta beat the Redskins to stay in NFC East command.
Gotta beat the Jets because you're supposed to.
Now gotta beat the Packers to show who's boss in the NFC; because of division title and playoff and head-to-head ramifications, as if just trying to win every time you compete isn't reason enough.
Plus, on top of all that, here's your owner, putting this game in historical perspective, accurate as it might be, saying unabashedly, "It's certainly the most significant game played at this stadium since the last time we played Green Bay and Brett Favre for the NFC championship . . . our fans haven't had a game of this magnitude in a long time."
Gee, Jerry, thanks for being so honest.
Ah, such is life for the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Yep, you had better be able to live in the moment and not let the pressure created by all the ancillary factors lock up your arm and your nerve or blur your focus - not even if you are starting only your 22nd NFL game.
And, no matter you might have a 16-5 lifetime NFL starting record or a 100.3 career quarterback rating, inquiring minds want to know about these perceived obstacles, not to mention your every move.
"He hasn't gotten drawn into anything so far," Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips said. "I think he's going to try to play his game. Romo has gone through a lot of things this year, and he always comes through."
That's expected, no matter