Legend persists that in 1781 when General Cornwallis surrendered 8,000 British and German troops to the Americans to end both the Siege of Yorktown and the Revolutionary War, the English fife and drum corps played “The World Turned Upside Down.” 

In some versions it included the lyrics: 

“If buttercups buzzed after the bee, 

If boats were on land, churches on sea, 

If ponies rode men and if grass ate the cows … 

If summer were spring and the other way round, 

Then all the world would be upside down.” 

And so I solicit your attention, today, with what I’ve been led to believe is a very unpopular, wrong-side-up opinion: I like Tony Romo. That’s right. I often enjoy his work on CBS’s NFL telecasts. 

It struck me as mildly astonishing that after a weekend of insufferable, three-hour verbal assaults as provided by NBC’s condescending know-it-all Cris Collinsworth then Fox’s unfiltered, untreated vacuous verbosity twins, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Greg Olsen, that Romo would be in for the worst public thrashing of the four, specifically for, “Perfectly thrown pass, a little wide.” 

(Speaking of long-winded, how about the above sentence, eh?) 

Tony Romo
Tony Romo’s foresight separates him above other NFL announcers.
Getty Images

Does Romo talk too much? They all do. Does he make contradictory statements? They all do, if one can listen long enough to realize it. Are they hired by network execs who wouldn’t know terrible from worse? Most are. Are they overpaid? Presumably, but none more than Romo at $18 million per season. 

But Romo has what others don’t: A stream of spontaneous, out-loud and even incautious consciousness spoken before it becomes worthless hindsight. It’s a regular guy’s gift, the ability to point over there and shout, “Look what’s coming!” as opposed to, “They need to get off the field.” 

Sunday, 2:50 left in the first half, the Bengals had third-and-4 from the Bills 15. When Cincy came to the line of scrimmage, QB Joe Burrow looked at a crowded defensive line, then began a series of pointed instructions. Romo jumped at it: 

“They’re going to need something, here, because everyone [on defense] is up on the line. 

“Burrow is calling out protection! Do this, do that. Know what to do! 

He concluded with, “Throw it right away!” 

That’s exactly what Burrow did. He immediately hit WR Ja’Marr Chase with a quick short pass to the left sideline. Chase then ran 7 yards for a first down. 

That extemporaneous “Heads up!,” to me, is all I need, a couple of times a game, to distinguish worth-my-while, genuine analysis from artificial additives and filler. And, proving that money is no object, Romo succeeds far more than most in a lost, neglected art. 

Over the weekend, only Romo made me look up to pay attention before the snap — another reason to stop cutting to crowd shots on third-and-significant. Might he have been wrong? Sure! He admits when he’s off. But he took a good shot — see it, say it! — and he scored. 

Collinsworth, on the other hand, who never ceased telling us what we just saw, speaks as if he’s on a throne, decreeing his approval of his subjects. 

Cris Collinsworth
Cris Collinsworth constantly tells viewers things they’ve already seen.
Getty Images

Daryl Johnston
Daryl Johnston’s nonstop commentary ruins NFL broadcasts.
Getty Images

Late in Jags-Chiefs, KC substitute WR Kadarius Toney, immature, unreliable and eventually expendable as a Giants’ first-round pick, took a pitch then ran for 10 yards. 

Collinsworth, adding his little “I know more than you” giggle, declared, “I love the running here of Kadarius Toney. What a stud!” 

Until further evidence than this one play emerges, Collinsworth’s secret is safe with us. 

Collinsworth was followed by Johnston calling Giants-Eagles. To put it plainly — again — from whistle to the next snap, he never shut up, providing protracted, redundant descriptions — “a positive gain” — atop views that spoke for themselves. 

Twenty years in, if Fox truly believes that viewers enjoy Johnston’s presence it’s badly self-deluded. Small wonder that for the past 10 years Fox has tethered John Smoltz to its baseball telecasts. 

Tony Romo, left, and Jim Nantz
Tony Romo, left, is partners with Jim Nantz in CBS’ lead NFL broadcasting booth.
Tribune News Service via Getty I

Greg Olsen seems to be working off a copy of the Moose Plan. He talks too long, too often and too fast when not a word is needed or wanted. That’s why Sunday, he said Niners’ QB Brock Purdy “excels in throwing in the middle third of the field.” 

Reader Paul Franklin: “What is the ‘middle third of the field’? Is that, uh, the middle?” 

In a world turned upside down, who knows? All I know is that things might have been different in 1781 had the Brits taken Olsen’s advice and maintained their “rush lane integrity.”

Goodell too chicken to end beef

So pandering, selectively blind phony Roger Goodell has the NFL in its third season of lining fields with virtue messaging from “Choose Love,” to “End Racism,” to “It Takes All Of Us” and “Inspire Change.” 

Yet at the end of games, often featuring fights and countless individual incivilities, players can’t wait to grab their “social” messaging devices to send childish, hateful challenges and name-calling, put-downs to one another, as per this week’s Deebo Samuel-Micah Parsons Instagram dialogue

Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell hasn’t done enough to stop players from sending incivil messages to each other on social media.
Getty Images

Yet, Goodell has never acted to put an end to that highly public and publicized antisocial garbage, thus all those virtue-signaling messages that surround NFL fields are only for us — TV viewers — as opposed to those in the greatest need of virtue, NFL players. 

Speaking of modern civilization, in a recent Q&A with colleague Steve Serby, Giants lineman Dexter Lawrence said he loves to talk trash on the field. Yep, he’s an inveterate trash-talker

Later, asked about his goals after football, Lawrence replied: “I definitely want to be involved with kids, just helping impact their lives from a younger age and teach them the little ways of life. Teach them discipline and leadership and all that stuff.” 

I guess instructions in trash-talking would fall under “all that stuff.” 

Get us some context, stat!

Ready! Fire! Aim! With 45 seconds left, Sunday, the Niners up seven, the Cowboys, no timeouts left, took a fair-catch at their own 6. 

As Dak Prescott led Dallas on to the field, Fox was ready with this fat stat graphic: “Prescott: 20 Game-Winning Drives In 4th QTR/OT.” 

Reader Jeff Cohen suggests one tiny contextual detail was omitted: “How many game-winning, 94-yard drives with 45 seconds left and no time outs has Prescott had?” Nit-picker! 

Damar Hamlin “Thoughts & Prayers,” “Puts Everything Into Perspective” Plays of the Week. 

With 50 seconds left, the Eagles up, 38-7, Giants’ WR Richie James caught a short pass in midfield then was crushed by a totally unnecessary brutal head-high hit from Eagles DB Josh Jobe, who then performed an all-about-me blood dance. 

On the next play, Giants TE Daniel Bellinger, with 20 seconds left, was similarly brutalized by DB K’Von Wallace, who also rose to celebrate what he could’ve accomplished with a fundamental tackle. 

Two needlessly, mindlessly dangerous hits followed by remorseless war-dancing with seconds left in a 38-7 game. Sick, twisted. 

Yet, Fox’s Joe Davis and Moose Johnston just gave both plays a pandering pass. You know how it works, by now in Goodell’s “Choose Love” league.


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Tyler Cowan