In the world of media excess, CBS’s Tony Romo has chosen the less-is-more approach for nearly everything, except his salary.
His three-year rise to the top of NFL analysts resulted in an out-of-this-world 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS. As a Cowboys quarterback, he made $127 million over 14 seasons, according to Spotrac.
As a broadcaster, he is scheduled to make around $900,000 per game! The NFL player minimum salary is $610,000 … for the season!
While Romo’s salary is large for his analysis and his opinions on Sundays, he mostly rejects participating in a world in which nearly everyone gives their opinion every second of the day on everything. He is not really even like the old-school lead analysts.
Whereas guys such as John Madden and Romo’s predecessor, Phil Simms, were on radio, TV and in newspapers constantly promoting their networks, Romo seldom wanders from the games.
Even for CBS, Romo basically just works his three-hour shift 20 Sundays a year. Less is more.
Romo’s insane CBS deal, after just three seasons on the job, was due to the timing of ESPN looking to score big for “Monday Night Football” and the looming negotiations of the next network NFL TV deals.
It also didn’t hurt that CBS has the Super Bowl this season. Romo had the good timing to agree to the deal right before the pandemic really hit.
The money will hereby define him in the booth. How much it does is the question. There are worse problems.
What has made Romo stick out from Day 1 is his confidence in the booth. From the first snap, he calls a game free and loose. He could be sitting next to you on the couch.
He has made himself a star and now he is minted by the money.
At 40, how will he age in the booth? While Romo was a retirement-straight-to-the-lead-booth anomaly because he was so natural, there is one distinct advantage to going right away from playing to broadcasting. He had been studying the defenses he is now analyzing for 14 years. It makes him very fluent in the current game. And it shows; especially in the big games.
His performance during the Patriots-Chiefs AFC Championship in January 2019 is one of the great sports broadcasting games of all time. His predictions of plays have garnered him publicity, but he hasn’t overdone them as a crutch.
Being the best, though, is not only about January and February — it’s about staying focused in the second quarter of a Week 5 game and digging into the minutiae that will allow him to maintain his reputation. He will have to study up to continue to stand out. He already has critics, with the biggest admonishment, espoused by Chris Russo, among others, that Romo talks too much.
The enormity of Romo’s contract to call around 20 games a season will make CBS’s games feel bigger, though it won’t impact the ratings. Troy Aikman, who does both Thursdays and Sundays for Fox, makes in the $7 million range, and it is now dwarfed by his fellow former Cowboys quarterback. No one will watch Fox less, though, of course.
Romo’s yearly salary is $17.5 million with another $500,000 divided between private travel and an assistant. With CBS having the Super Bowl this year and the possibility of Romo taking a week off when Nantz does the Masters (Can you believe it at these prices?), Romo may do exactly 20 games this year.
That means he would make $900,000 per three-hour telecast. Romo’s base of $17.5 million would be a top-50 contract for players this season and his overall deal is fully guaranteed.
Romo has dreams of playing golf professionally. That is his true passion. In the booth, he already has taken over the major title and it won’t be beaten for a long time, if ever.
No one else is making $17.5 million per season. With all the money, the focus will shift even more to him. Ours will too.
He is the $180 million man. It is good to be Tony Romo. But the contract has an unwritten clause — there will be even more focus on him.
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