Romo says specialization can be bad
STATELINE, Nev. -- Tony Romo played all kinds of sports as a child, especially basketball, and figures he never would have become the Dallas Cowboys' quarterback if he had concentrated on just one sport as many youths do today.
"People sometimes today are predominantly putting their kids into one sport," said Romo, who held the first-round lead and now is tied for third entering Sunday's final round of the 20th annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.
"Age 10, they're going to do one thing the rest of their life. I have a hard time with that because, shoot, I was like a basketball player as a kid. I would have just concentrated on one sport, soccer or something," he told reporters after shooting a 3-under-par 69 on Friday.
"I never would have been able to do what I'm lucky enough to do -- play football," he said.
Romo went undrafted out of Eastern Illinois but signed with Dallas as a free agent in 2003. After three years as a backup, he earned his first start against the Carolina Panthers in 2006, leading the Cowboys to victory to begin a run that has seen him become a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
Born in San Diego, he said he wears No. 9 because that was Roy Hobbs' number in "The Natural," the baseball movie starring Robert Redford. He's a firm believer that athletes -- young and old alike -- benefit from playing multiple sports.
"I use the tools that you get mentally on the [golf] course for football," Romo said.
"Anytime you're in a pressure situation or something happens where you have to rely on your mental strength or discipline or all of a sudden you get nervous, blood starts racing, heart starts going, the more you're in those situations the better off you're going to be," he said.
"I think that is exciting to be in those situations on the golf course because then all of a sudden when you're at the end of a football game, you felt your blood pressure rise, you felt this stuff go through your brain and you have to rely on your fundamentals. ... I think my fundamentals are probably a little better at football, but I think that it's a neat thing to kind of use that in something else."
Romo once shot a 69 in a qualifying round for the U.S. Open Championship and won a playoff to become the first alternate but didn't get in the field. He played Friday at the celebrity tournament with NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino and John Elway.
"I'll remember that for a long time. Those guys are as good as they get and it was special for me to be out there and be part of it and talk and hang out," he said.
"Obviously it was great to pick their brains a little bit on different things. But it was just fun being around it," he said.
Romo said he had so much fun he suggested playing another 18 holes.
"Elway's like 'My knee's done.' Marino said 'My back, my shoulders,'" he said. "I'll be there in three years."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press