ARLINGTON, Texas – The lines wrapped all the way from Candy & Snacks to the Back to the School area.
At the Walmart in Arlington, directly across the street from Cowboys Stadium, the face of the franchise was signing autographs for fans and supporting his affiliation with Starter, an athletic brand that is very prominent in Walmart and other retailers.
Tan from his latest golf outing out in California, Romo seems itching to get back to the football field. Probably even more so than his coaches are to have him there.
As for Tuesday, Romo said he is not expected to attend this week's three days of Valley Ranch practice, which is the actual start of training camp.
All rookies, veterans who were injured in the offseason, and quarterbacks are eligible to attend. But Romo said the Cowboys have asked him not to participate this week to keep him rested for the grind of camp, which begins in Oxnard, Calif. on Monday, July 30.
Romo said he's trying to change their mind and might even make an appearance, but it's likely Kyle Orton, Stephen McGee and Rudy Carpenter will be the only quarterbacks in this condensed camp.
Still, whether he starts this week or next, Romo's excitement is evident. In fact, the quarterback said it's greater than it's ever been at this time of year.
"The excitement level is there for the season because of the players we have on the team, some of the new additions and the amount of work and new stuff that we're doing this year," Romo said. "I haven't been this excited about a football season as far as the collection of talent we have on the football field, and I think that's exciting."
While Romo is coming off one of the better statistical seasons of his career in 2011, when he threw for 31 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions for a personal-best 102.5 quarterback rating, the 8-8 record and missing the playoffs is the only thing that matters.
Romo also knows he is remembered for a couple of early-season games – the Jets and Lions, specifically – when costly turnovers led to fourth-quarter collapses. He said he used those moments as a positive for later in the season.
"I learned a lot at the beginning of last year. It allowed me to do some things in the latter part. … I had a stretch at the end that I was able to utilize some of the negative things that happened to me at the beginning of the season to play at the level I was starting to last year," Romo said. "I think that will only continue. It sucks you have to go through those things, but they were great experiences for me in the long run. The short-term sucked. That is part of growing as a quarterback and getting better. But you've got to utilize it and I did. I think my best years are head of me and that's exciting."
For Romo, he understands that but wouldn't say there is any more or less pressure heading into the 2012 season. "Anytime you're playing quarterback in the National Football League, (pressure) is always going to be there," Romo said. "That's a part of your job. It's the same ol' thing. You're going to get too much credit when you win and you're going to get all the other stuff when you lose. It's part of playing the position and you know that. For us, it's always the sense of urgency. You never know when it could be your last game or season."