When Kellen Moore first met Tony Romo in September 2015, he quickly made the Dallas Cowboys’ veteran quarterback feel old.
“I told him I first saw him play when I was in sixth grade (in 2000), when he was in college. He was at Eastern Illinois, and they were in the playoffs against Montana,” Moore said.
Romo played in just five games the past two seasons because of injuries, but he served as a vital presence for Moore, the former Boise State great. On Tuesday, Romo announced his retirement from the NFL and will become the new lead analyst for CBS.
“I learned a ton from him. He was the top of the NFL for so long for a reason, and people are going to see just how smart of a guy he is,” Moore said. “When he was able to be around, he was always willing to be helpful to all the guys like me and Dak (Prescott). He’s been huge for my career.”
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Moore, who started two games in 2015 and played in another, re-signed with Dallas on March 20 and is expected to be Prescott’s backup this season. He missed last season with a broken leg, while Romo appeared in one game.
“We obviously spent a lot of time on the sideline together, and you knew it was really hard for him, but it was really impressive to see how he can analyze things so quickly,” Moore said.
That ability to diagnose plays before the snap was one of the biggest aspects Moore learned from Romo.
“Tony has a different style than a lot of guys, a lot of improvising, adjustments at the line of scrimmage,” Moore said. “He wanted to be in the perfect play in every situation. Sometimes you’d be like, ‘Let’s chill out.’ I learned a lot from his perspective, really into searching for the best possible answer no matter what.”
Moore said he’s confident Romo is retired for good, but also “never say never.” He thinks Romo also might get a shot to do some golf coverage, since he is an avid golfer who tried to qualify for the U.S. Open in 2010.
Reflecting on his first experiences around Romo, Moore quickly understood the sway Romo held.
“I basically came in while they were getting ready for the first regular season game, trying to learn the playbook while they were doing game prep, all the audibles, all the calls, that stuff,” Moore said. “But when they went over that, it was always, ‘But Tony does it this way.’ Eventually, it was like, ‘Can I get the Tony manual?’”
The Cowboys have a few Idaho connections beyond Moore — three other Boise State players are on the roster, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan played at Idaho in the 1980s, and his son, Matt, a Vandals quarterback entering his senior season, often spends time around the team. Matt Linehan tweeted about Romo’s retirement Tuesday.
Defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford, a former Bronco, put in a little jab at the outgoing Romo.
On Thursday, Romo responded in kind.
Back in Dallas, Moore said he is eager to continue his NFL career and aid in the development of Prescott, who was pressed into duty as a rookie last season with Romo and Moore hurt, and had 23 TDs to four interceptions in leading Dallas to the playoffs. Prescott called Moore the “genius behind the scenes.”
“I’m excited. I love Dallas,” Moore said. “We have a great group with myself, Dak, Scott, (quarterbacks coach) Wade Wilson, (head coach) Jason Garrett. Let’s be real, Dak did a lot of that on his own, but I was glad to help him go around the weekly process since he’d never been through that and Tony couldn’t be around, rehabbing his back.”
AJAYI COMING TO BOISE
Former Boise State running back Jay Ajayi, who reached the Pro Bowl earlier this year after rushing for 1,272 yards in the regular season, will host his first camp June 2 at Albertsons Stadium.
The camp is open to boys and girls in grades 1-8. Area coaches will be on hand with Ajayi to teach fundamental skills. Each participant receives an Ajayi autograph and a team photo with him. The cost is $99. For more information, click here.
SPRING GAME HELMETS
Boise State will wear helmets with a new look at Saturday’s spring game: “Bleed Blue” will be on the side in chrome.