ATLANTA —Tony Romo has a knack for predicting plays calls in the tightest situations of big games, so why not try his hand at calling the score of Super Bowl LIII?
The CBS analyst obliged Tuesday afternoon as the network held a media availability for its talent. It’s the 20th Super Bowl for CBS and the first for Romo, the 38-year-old former Eastern Illinois quarterback who went from a career with the Cowboys straight into the broadcast booth in 2017.
Romo was almost bashful Tuesday about all the attention he has received since identifying Tom Brady’s throws before they happened in the AFC championship game in Kansas City.
“I will keep playing my novelty act here,” Romo said. “I’m going to go 28-24. I think the team that has 24 has the ball at the end and they don’t score.”
Romo stopped short of picking a winner.
He was able to correctly predict throws in the slot to the Patriots’ Julian Edelman and a fade route to tight end Rob Gronkowski. It was almost as if he had a mind-meld with quarterback Tom Brady. It’s not new. Romo drew praise as a rookie broadcaster for having the instinct to call plays based on formations or pre-snap reads. After doing it in the closing moments of a riveting game, he has become a social media star, the biggest hit in sports television. Free-agent slugger Bryce Harper tweeted at Romo and asked him where he’d be signing. Romo replied the Rangers, so he probably needs to stick with football for now.
“That was a chance for the whole world to see your prowess as a football analyst and to be able to see formations and schemes and quarterback lining up and instantly being able to identify the weak spot in the defense,” play-by-play man Jim Nantz said. “You saw it and you articulated it. I called you Romostradamus on the fade to Gronkowski. I’ve seen it every week. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, man, that’s unbelievable.’ It was, what you did. But it was there every week for the last year two years.”
Romo tried to downplay a skill that sets him apart from many of his contemporaries, a skill likely sharpened because he’s so closely removed from his playing days and watching tons of film on a weekly basis.
“I feel like you’re just watching the game,” he said. “You’re just kind of going through it, you have so many years of experience, your passion comes out and you start talking and you kind of just say what you see. You get lucky once in a while. I don’t think it is anything deeper than that, other than you get lucky once in a while.”
Chiefs fans wondered if coach Andy Reid fired defensive coordinator Bob Sutton because if Romo could identify what the Patriots were doing from the television booth at Arrowhead Stadium, Sutton and his defense should have been better prepared. That suggestion obviously bothers Romo.
“In the NFL, it goes much deeper, when any coach doesn’t have a job the next year, it’s not one game, it’s not one moment,” he said. “It’s a collection. It’s like players. You’re evaluated like everyone. Coach Sutton has been incredible his whole career. Sometimes coaches make changes for different reasons.”
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who was Romo’s head coach with the Cowboys for four seasons, joked he was going to get an earpiece for the CBS feed during the game so the Rams aren’t isn’t left guessing what Brady and Co. will do.
“Probably not a good idea,” Romo said. “Coach is fantastic. He is going to come up with a great plan and I think he’s going to have to because Tom is going to obviously be prepared. … You’re going to see real-time adjustments in this football game going on by both sides. And I think that’s one of the more enjoyable aspects of this game.”
Romo legitimately seems a little uncomfortable being in the spotlight. All he’s trying to do is keep eyeballs glued to the television.
“I’m trying to do the best I can and hopefully the people at home enjoy,” he said. “It’s hard to sit down and watch anything for three hours anymore. Everyone is playing on their phone. My wife is on Pinterest or something half the time. So I know people are human beings. If they’re not being entertained in some capacity or learning, it’s hard to keep their attention. If it’s their favorite team you will, but if it’s not their favorite team, you’re in and out. I just want to make people enjoy it.”