It’s a day that many of us didn’t see coming so quickly. After 14 seasons on the field, Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys legend and four-time Professional Bowler, is retiring from the ‘Boys and taking his life in a new direction.
He may be one of the NFL’s most publicized and polarizing players, but there’s a side of the famous Dallas Cowboys quarterback that many haven’t seen.
Tony Romo believes in God. And if you meet him in person, you’ll quickly learn that he’s unashamed to tell you so.
But Romo doesn’t claim to be a perfect Christian. In fact, he admits that many of his life’s deepest struggles are what caused him to turn to Christ.
Tony Romo hasn’t always had it easy. Like many pro-athletes of our day, Romo struggled through his younger days.
Antonio Ramiro “Tony” Romo was born on April 21, 1980, to Joan and Ramiro Romo. Raised in Wisconsin, his father served in the United States Navy, while his mother was a store clerk. With two older sisters, young Tony was the man of the house when his father was away.
By the first grade, Tony was already very active in sports. But his love for competition started on the sidelines — cheering on his father as he watched him play intramural basketball at the gym. And it wasn’t long before Tony fell in love with basketball for himself.
If it was competitive, Romo was in. Before ever discovering football, Romo played soccer, golf, and basketball.
On the weekends you could find him golfing, or driving up and down the streets of rural Wisconsin, looking for pickup basketball or soccer games. And at night, it didn’t stop. Romo played video games, poker, or chess—anything to stay in competition—in the basements of his friends’ homes.
Romo was the kind of kid who was good at everything. But despite his God-given athletic abilities, it took some time for Romo to recognize God’s plan for his life. Romo had been raised in church, but didn’t fully surrender to his life to Christ until he was in college.
Romo shared, “I grew up in the church, in Sunday school. But I had never known how to give yourself over to the Lord. You could say, I never thought deeply about it other than just Sunday school and church. And Jesus was Santa in some ways.”
Romo was an exceptional basketball player, but he didn’t discover his knack for football until his junior year.
Romo was a talented quarterback, but drew little interest from the big football colleges. And without many options, Romo eventually settled for a partial scholarship from Eastern Illinois University.
In college, the stress that went with trying to excel was overwhelming. Romo couldn’t help but think there had to be more to life than just winning.
Romo realized that God had been trying to capture his attention all along. He felt on fire the first time he recited the Lord’s Prayer after he was saved — and he couldn’t seem to read or learn enough about the Gospel. It was there, in college, that Romo learned what being a true disciple of Christ meant.
Romo shared, “I had never known how to give myself over to the Lord… I remember in college a few people talking about it [their faith in Jesus Christ]. I remember this guy mentioning Bible study. He probably didn’t know it but I was watching him, and I wanted what he had. I wanted the ability to be at peace when life was crappy… [After becoming a believer] …it was so freeing to finally know that someone other than me was sovereign over my life and I could rest in that.”
With God on his side, Romo was a new man. With his life fully devoted to Christ, Romo worked tirelessly to improve his game. And as he broke record after record, it was obvious that his hard work was paying off. On December 19, 2002, Romo progressed enough to win the Walter Payton Award. He finished school with a record of 85 touchdown passes.
College came and went, and Romo graduated without any hope of achieving his NFL dreams. Nevertheless he continued to trust God’s plan for his life.
Eventually, Romo’s undeniable talent drew interest from several teams as a free agent. Romo finally achieved his dreams and signed with the Dallas Cowboys. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Romo, and once again, he found himself on the chopping block — with the potential of letting the biggest opportunity of his life slip through his fingers.
Romo recalled, “My second year in the NFL, I was in training camp, I was very stressed and emotional. I sat there and prayed that night, ‘if I’m meant to be an assistant golf club professional back in Wisconsin, I will be that and I will trust You. But I am done making every single thing be the most important moment of my life. There’s no peace in that. I’m literally giving football to You… I’m going to play aggressively and leave it up to you. And I’m going to peace with whatever the outcome is.'” And that prayer changed everything. Romo continued, “That was the moment I learned to play the game — when I gave it up. When I gave it up, He had control.”
Romo has achieved every boy’s dream. But Romo realized early on that theres’s much more to life than just winning at football. And through every struggle, devastating injury, and setback, he has learned to put his trust solely in the Lord.
And although many athletes are hesitant to share their faith, Romo intends to wear it just as proudly as he does his No. 9 jersey.
Romo shared, “I’d love to say that my life was magically perfect after I came to the Lord, but it doesn’t work that way. You still sin, it’s still hard. But whenever you fail you come back to the lord– you don’t run away. But I’m going to keep getting back up and praying and asking for forgiveness and keep my faith. That’s what it’s about.You come back to Him. And He gives you peace. You don’t stand a chance if you don’t believe in something bigger than yourself. There are too many ups and downs that go with playing quarterback in the National Football League.”
Today, Tony Romo may be a world-famous football star, but he does’t consider that his greatest gift in life. Aside from being an unashamed follower of Jesus Christ, Romo is also undoubtedly a true family man — an attribute quite rare for most athletes these days.
Romo is married to the 2008 Miss Missouri USA and journalist, Candice Crawford. The pair met in the summer of 2009 and were inseparable from that moment forward.
After dating a year and a half, Romo popped the question on Candice’s 24th birthday in front of their families. The lovebirds finally tied the knot during the NFL lockout on May 28, 2011. And unlike most men in America, Romo considers his marriage more important than his career.
Romo told reporters, “I think one of the most important things you’re going to do in your life is hopefully be the spiritual leader of your family. Growing up, I was lucky to have a dad who instilled that in me.”
About five months after getting married, the Romos announced that Candice was pregnant with the couple’s first child. On April 9, 2012 the Romos welcomed their first son, Hawkins Crawford Romo.
And just two years later, the family of three grew to four with the addition of another boy, Rivers Ray Romo, born on March 18, 2014.
When asked how he felt about fatherhood, Romo beamed from ear to ear and replied, “It’s amazing how someone you’ve never met before you just love that fast.”
Many assume that being an NFL player comes easily, but Candice Romo shares that it’s not always what it seems. Throughout the ups and downs of football, faith, she said, is their family’s rock.
“As a wife, what’s hard and sad is that I love him so much and what he does and everything about him. You want everyone to love your husband just as much as you do. People don’t get to see his funny side and off-the-field personality, and what he does at home. I don’t know how we would get through certain times without the Lord and the community that we surround ourselves with,” said Candice.
The Romo family took a big hit last year when Romo got injured in the preseason. And things went from bad to worse when Dak Prescott was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft.
Tony lost his spot on the team as starting quarterback and was replaced by a rookie. But even in the midst of heartbreak, Romo clung to his faith in Jesus Christ.
In the midst of one the most heartbreaking seasons of his life, Romo’s faith enabled him to handle his circumstances with grace — and even showed Dak his full, unwavering support.
In the competitive sport of football, Dak was surprised to be so supported by Tony. Dak shared, “You got Tony, he’s texting me like ‘I believe in you. You’re the type of guy I pull for.’ So it just makes me feel comfortable,” Prescott said.
This year, Romo will most likely to be traded or released by the Cowboys in the offseason, ending what was one of the greatest quarterback stints in team history. But instead of throwing a pity party or becoming bitter, Tony Romo has put his unwavering faith in His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“To me, it’s no different than trying to become a great football player or a great dad, to grow and become better and stronger in your faith. I’m far from perfect. I know that. Every day is a battle to try and become the person that you want to be. Having the faith that I have allows me to believe that I can continue to grow as a person. The grace I’ve received from the Lord and Jesus allows you to keep trying to get better.”
Since dedicating his life to Christ, it’s simply incredible to see all that God has done through Tony Romo. And although many have advised him to stay quiet about his faith, Romo has done the opposite as he unashamedly gives all glory to God.
“I don’t want to be done playing and not use this platform to let people know I feel blessed. I don’t want to squander a gift that’s been given to me to do this. I want to give back the way I think the Lord intended when he allowed me to have these abilities.” – Tony Romo
Though Romo has desired to glorify God through his gifting and the platform of being a professional athlete, the time has come to shift his career into something off the field. Despite interest from at least one playoff-ready NFL team, announced Tuesday that he is retiring from the game and officially released by the Dallas Cowboys. Tony will take his knowledge of the game off the field and work for CBS this season as an analyst alongside Jim Nantz on game broadcasts.
“I’m really excited about the challenge ahead,” Romo said in a conference call. “I’m excited. It’s going to be a great challenge for me … I hope that I’m able to make the CBS family proud with their decision.”
Tony Romo’s life boasts of what God can do when one man is willing to put God first, work hard, honor his country, lead his family, and strive to make a difference. And there’s no doubt that Tony Romo’s life has inspired Americans of all ages.
While listening to Tony Romo’s inspiring story, I just couldn’t help but think of Peter 5:5-7, which reads,
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”
In a world full of men lacking character, thank you Tony Romo, for your unashamed faith and unwavering principles. Tony Romo will forever be one of the world’s most beloved athletes. America needs more men Tony Romo, please share if you agree.