The Tony Romo Principle of fan criticism - am I understanding this correctly?

I’ve noted that Tony Romo has been the target of far greater criticism, over the past decade, than just about any other recent Cowboys quarterback, and also many other quarterbacks in the NFL who are arguably of lower caliber than him, with many critics pointing to his 2-4 record in the playoffs.

The puzzling logic seems to go like this: It is worse for a player to be good enough to take his team to the playoffs, but not any further, than it is for him to be simply bad and not even get his team anywhere to begin with.

Or another way to put it would be that “good” gets more criticism than either “bad” or “great.”

Some of this logic seems to be applied to Lionel Messi with regards to Argentina’s performance in international tournaments (Messi’s Argentine squads lost in the final of the 2014 World Cup, 2015 and 2016 Copa Americas.)

The Cowboys have had numerous quarterbacks over the past two decades who were significantly worse than Romo: Clint Stoerner, Chad Hutchinson, Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Brandon Weeden, etc. None of them got anything close to Romo’s criticism, despite the fact that they were probably all objectively worse QBs than Romo.

Phillip Rivers of the Chargers seems to have gotten similar treatment in San Diego; he was taking them to the playoffs often, but not very far. Peyton Manning also took a lot of heat, especially for his 0-3 record in the playoffs through the 2002 season, all the way up to prior to the 2006 season, when he led the Colts to the championship.

Anyway, am I just imagining this, or is there indeed a *“If you take your team far, but not all the way, you’ll take more flak than if you never took them anywhere at all” *phenomenon going on?

Ooops! Mods, I put this in the wrong forum, it was supposed to go into the Game Room; could someone please move it?

I’m not saying I agree with the logic but I think the argument is that if your team isn’t at the top, the second best place to be is the bottom. There you can at least think about building your team up with draft prospects. The worst place to be is in the middle; too bad to do well in the playoffs and too good to do well in the draft.

It’s the frustration factor. If the QB just plain sucks, no one expects much of him. But when he gets you sooooo close, and then drops the ball? Fuck! Worst QB EVAR!

Well, Romo has been there for a decade while the others on your list only lasted a year or two. People tend not to complain about players that don’t play for their team. Put Ryan Leaf back under center for the Cowboys and I think you’d find a lot of people saying how bad he sucks.

Two, Romo has had ten years to do something, none of the others have failed for so long for the same team. I suspect many fans are just facing the fact that if Romo was going to go to the Superbowl, he would have been there by now.

You mention Peyton Manning took a lot of heat. Perhaps he did (and justifiable so–even in his college days, he didn’t seem to be able to win when it counted), but he was also considered one of the best QBs to play the game, even at the time. Even in 2011, the year Peyton didn’t play a game, I heard him mentioned as a possible MVP (perhaps sarcastically). His father, Archie, is in the HOF and never even won a division title.

No, Romo isn’t viewed as a bad quarterback because he hasn’t been to the SuperBowl. He just isn’t that good. Good enough to keep his job for a decade but I doubt he will be in the HOF except as a visitor.

Now the Cowboys have Dak Prescott, so it is easier to toss Romo. It is very few QBs that get the opportunity to be starting QB in the NFL straight out of college, and even fewer who are good at it. We’ll have to wait and see, but I suspect Dak will be viewed as a great QB.

Tony Romo is an elite QB. One of the best clutch QBs ever. From

As for why he gets so much flack? Well, haters gotta hate. And lots of people hates the Cowboys.

It’s the “uncanny valley” of criticism.

Two things: First being in the Hall of Fame seems like a high bar for being a “just good” QB. Second, Romo is a fantastic QB. 3rd all time in QB rating, fantastic completions percentage and TD/int ratio. He’s a better QB than multiple SB winners Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning.

The QB is the most important person on a team, but he’s not he only one. Romo’s one of the most underappreciated players of all time.

I never understood all the crap dished out on Romo. I HATE the Cowboys, but I completely respect Tony Romo. That dude can play. It’s amazing to me that so many Cowboys “fans” rag on the guy after every loss, since he’s been carrying that sorry-ass team for the last decade. Their roster has been garbage.

Fans judge QBs on their winning a Super Bowl. John Elway had that for years – an underachiever who failed in the postseason. Once he won a Super Bowl, all was forgotten.

Joe Namath, OTOH, is in the football Hall of Fame because he won a Super Bowl.

Another factor is fan expectations. Dan Marino never got much flak for his lack of a Super Bowl ring. Evidently, Dolphins fans never blamed him.

It’s a silly expectation in any case. Winning a Super Bowl is a team effort, and there have been mediocre QBs that have rings.

I don’t mean this thread to be a discussion about Romo so much as about the issue of a player with good performance facing heightened criticism or scrutiny whereas a bad player gets away with low expectations.

It seems kind of like how teachers are stricter on the good students than on the bad students.

Many people treat “playoff success” as one of the most important factors in judging a QB. There are three possibilities:

  1. Don’t make the playoffs
  2. Lose in the playoffs
  3. Win in the playoffs

In Romo’s specific case he’s had a few very high-profile screwups at the end of important games, and that’s kind of defined people’s opinion of him.

I can recall a couple old discussions here that might be related to this. There was one topic comparing a player making 4 super bowls and winning them all, to a player making 5 super bowls and winning 4. What’s better - the guy who made an extra SB but lost it, or the guy who never lost one?

The other discussion was about Federer and Nadal’s head-to-head record, fairly early in Nadal’s career. Fed kept losing to Nadal in the French Open, but Nadal often didn’t make it far enough to meet Fed in the other slams. So Nadal beat Fed more often, because Fed was better than Nadal :).

One other thing with Romo is that he plays for the Cowboys, who are a very high-profile team with lots of past success. Romo has some similarities to Rivers, but I think Rivers is seen as just trapped trying to carry the hapless Chargers, where Romo is trying to produce the expected glory of the Cowboys.

I think you’ve identified a real phenomenon. I can think of a few other examples:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers of the late eighties, early nineties - They were a very good team with a very good record, but kept running up against Michael Jordan. Nobody really remembers them because they were merely good, not great.
  • Roger Federer - Now, stay with me. I know he’s historically great. Maybe the greatest. However, he continually ran up against the greatest clay court player of all time - Rafael Nadal - at the French Open, preventing him from getting numerous grand slams and cementing him as the greatest player of all time.
  • The Utah Jazz of the mid-nineties to the 00s - Similar to the Cavs, these guys were great for many years. Karl Malone and John Stockton were amazing, but they couldn’t get a title and will forever be an afterthought
  • Andy Reid - Coach Reid has coached a TON of good teams. He has played numerous playoff games. He is a very good coach. However, he could never bring a title to Philadelphia and was fired. He’s duplicating his results in Kansas City, but it seems unlikely that he’ll bring a title there, either.

There’s something about consistent quality without extraordinary results that irritate humans. Nobody dreams of being really good at something, they dream of being the best. And when you’re ‘just’ really good for a long time, it gets annoying. It feels better to blow it up and be able to dream of being the best sometime in the future than feel that you’re doomed to ‘goodness’.

An example of this is the Quebec Nordiques, who were so terrible for so long that they lost their franchise to Colorado only to see them reap the benefits of their high drafts picks and finally get a title.

I don’t think your examples work, or at least the Jazz one doesn’t. Nobody calls Malone or Stockton trash because they couldn’t get it done.

Who is this Tony Romo you refer to? All true Cowboy fans refer to Dak Prescott as their QB1.

I disagree. The premise of the OP is:

“If you take your team far, but not all the way, you’ll take more flak than if you never took them anywhere at all”

They don’t call Stockton and Malone trash, but the team is remembered as a failure. And the lack of a title will follow them forever as an asterisk. People will remember Robert Horry (7 titles) as a better performer than Stockton or Malone who had far better regular season careers.

Although, I guess a better comparison might be Dominique Wilkins who never took his team anywhere. Who is looked upon as better? Probably Stockton and Malone. Anyway, those two will never be spoken of in the same breathe as lesser players who won titles.

I don’t think this is close to being true.

For instance, bleacher report has Malone as the best power forward of all time and Stockton as the second best point guard. I don’t think either of those is terribly controversial. Horry isn’t in any conversation for best at his position.

You can click on the little triangle in the upper right corner of a post to report it and get a mod’s attention. I’ve relocated this from IMHO to the Game Room.

I think we are talking past each other a bit. I don’t disagree that Stockton and Malone are great basketball players. I DO think that they take flak for not taking their team to a title. And they take more abuse than lesser players who were able to win one or multiple titles.

Nobody really moans about what Robert Horry might have been. Basically every time someone speaks of Malone or Stockton, it’s mentioned that they’re great despite never winning a title.

They take more flak for falling short of a title than someone does for winning a title, but never being as good as they could have been.

But, again, this is a bit off-topic. I/we should be comparing teams/players who never sniffed a title at all vs. teams/players who came close, but never quite made it. Maybe Derrick Coleman, Carmelo Anthony or Chris Webber are better comparisons. I’m not sure. I have to admit that the argument is tenuous.