FRISCO, Texas – Tony Romo joined the Dallas Cowboys in the spring of 2003 with a $10,000 rookie free agent signing bonus and no guarantees of a roster spot or an NFL future.
He worked his way from borderline No. 3 quarterback on Bill Parcells' first Cowboys depth chart to a 10-year starter, a four-time Pro Bowler and one of the league's most exciting players – a Favre-esque gunslinger who could spin and scramble from collapsing pockets and make plays with his arm and feet.
Romo didn't become a marquee player by chance. He has always thrived on competition.
He'll carry that same attitude to his next career: the CBS broadcasting booth.
"I don't think it's going to be easy," Romo said Tuesday in a CBS conference call introducing him as the network's lead NFL analyst. "I'm expecting it to be difficult and that is no different than when I came to the NFL. But, like anything in life, you go attack it. You wake up every day and give everything you've got. If you have any ability at all, you're going to at least achieve your potential."
Romo's new job carries plenty of prestige. He's only the fifth lead NFL analyst at CBS since the 1960s, following in the footsteps of all-time greats Pat Summerall and John Madden.
It's also a lot more work than three hours in the booth on Sundays.
He must study the teams he's covering each week. He must put on his new media hat and interview players and coaches. He must learn the nuances of broadcasting with his new team that includes Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson.
The lessons he learned from his playing career should help.
"It reminds me of my rookie year when you really don't know anything," he said. "You're walking into a brand‑new situation. You're trying to play the game. I can talk, but this is a completely different world. There is a lot of subtlety involved, just like playing the quarterback position. You have to figure out what the difference is, and how to succeed. I like that challenge.
"I've got to go attack this just like football and see where I'm good and where I'm not… If there is a strength of mine, it's my ability to learn. If I'm not very good right away, my hope is it doesn't take too long. And if I'm not (good right away), I can promise you I'll be spending 20-hours a day trying to figure it out."