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Volume 20 No. 41
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Tony Romo will ‘develop into a first-rate analyst,’ CBS’s McManus says

CBS Sports’ top executives held secret meetings with Tony Romo’s agents from CAA Sports in Phoenix to finalize a deal that would move Romo from the football field to the broadcast booth. Just a few hours before the NCAA Tournament championship game tipped off, the two sides agreed on a deal that would make the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback CBS’s top NFL game analyst.

Both sides agreed to wait a week to release the news, originally targeting Tuesday, April 11, as the day to make the announcement. After all, CBS Sports was in one of the busiest times of its year, producing two of its largest events on consecutive weekends — the Final Four and the Masters.

News of Romo’s signing, though, almost immediately started leaking. The morning after the NCAA championship, SportsBusiness Daily broke the news that Romo was joining CBS, essentially blowing up CBS Sports’ plan to wait a week.

“When it started to leak out, we quickly mobilized and decided to do the conference call at 4 p.m. after we all landed coming back from Phoenix,” said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus.

Romo proved to be the hottest NFL free agent during the offseason, at least as far as broadcasting is concerned. He attracted interest from Fox Sports, which offered a job as the No. 2 analyst to replace John Lynch, who was hired as the San Francisco 49ers’ general manager. ESPN and NBC Sports also made inquiries, offering Romo studio roles.

CBS’s offer of the top game analyst spot, replacing Phil Simms, was too good for Romo to pass up.

First Look podcast, with discussion of Tony Romo beginning at the 11:20 mark:

Though Romo has no broadcasting experience, TV executives are unanimous in describing him as someone with all the skills to be a top-flight broadcaster — he’s articulate, likable and passionate about the NFL.

“You get a feeling when you talk to somebody that they’re going to be good on television,” McManus said. “It’s hard to describe that feeling.”

Whenever CBS would carry a Dallas Cowboys game, the network’s producers and directors would meet with players and coaches to discuss strategy.

“I can’t tell you how many times our producers or associate producers would come back and say, ‘We’ve had a 15-minute conversation with Tony Romo; he’s going to be a terrific analyst one day,’” McManus said. “I confirmed that in my own mind when I spent a lot of time talking to him. There’s no such thing as a can’t miss. Nobody is terrific in their first game. It’s going to be a learning process and I think he’s going to develop into a first-rate analyst.”