If there’s anyone in position to know what Tony Romo is up against in his next career, it’s Hall-of-Fame lineman Dan Dierdorf, who successfully made the leap from the football field to the broadcasting booth.
Dierdorf not only worked televised NFL games after retiring from the St. Louis Cardinals. He worked the biggest and best NFL games, spending 12 seasons as a color analyst for Monday Night Football telecasts before moving over to CBS to do the same job for another 15 years.
Now the color analyst for University of Michigan radio broadcasts, Dierdorf is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a former player and as a broadcaster. We caught up to him this week on the Talk of Fame Network to get his thoughts on moving from the football field to the broadcasting field and what it means for Romo and CBS.
And he was only too happy to oblige.
“It’s hard,” he said of broadcasting. “It’s hard work. It takes a special person, and when I say ‘special,’ I mean … you’re juggling a lot of balls in the air at the same time. You’re talking to America. You’re trying to make a point, (and) you have to be concise when you do it. You have a producer and/or a director talking to you at the same time in your ear, and it really befuddles lots of people who have tried it.
“Yeah, Tony has a fantastic personality. He’s eloquent. He has a fun demeanor to him that will translate. I think people will really like it. But it’s impossible to tell whether or not he’s going to be able to handle what it takes to be a successful broadcaster.
If I learned one thing in 30 years, you just never knowing going in who’s going to be good and who’s not going to be good. CBS is taking a real chance in someone who’s never been in a broadcast booth before and putting him on that stage. It’s a roll of the dice.
“If I learned one thing in 30 years, you just never knowing going in who’s going to be good and who’s not going to be good. CBS is taking a real chance in someone who’s never been in a broadcast booth before and putting him on that stage. It’s a roll of the dice.”
That’s an understatement. It’s not only that Romo has no experience calling games; it’s that CBS is inserting him on its No. 1 team, replacing Phil Simms with the former Dallas quarterback. Call it a leap of faith or call it a high-stakes gamble, but one thing’s for sure: It’s a baptism by fire, with critics waiting to pounce the minute Romo pulls on a pair of headphones.
“Sean McManus (the chairman of CBS Sports), whom I worked for for many years, is as smart of a TV guy as there is,” Dierdorf said, “but I guess he just felt that this was just too good to pass up. But there’s a risk involved here.
“I hope Tony does great. I hope he has a fantastic career, and they just hand him Emmy after Emmy. But it is a hard business, and he’s about to find it out.
“Phil Simms just found out how hard of a business it is. He had a great career. Who knows what he’s going to do? But it’s just really unusual to watch somebody right out of the gate get that kind of an assignment.”
Asked if he had advice for Romo, Dierdorf nodded.
“Don’t read Twitter,” he said. “Don’t read the newspapers. Don’t read anything other than all the news you can gather of the two teams you’re going to cover because it’s a cruel world out there.”