How Long Did Tony Romo Play in the NFL?

Before Tony Romo was the lead CBS color commentator, he was a four-time Pro Bowl NFL quarterback. How long did the former Cowboys QB play for America's Team?

From undrafted free agent to the face of America’s Team, CBS color commentator Tony Romo’s journey from obscurity to NFL star was one for the books. A total of 25 players have made it from Eastern Illinois University to the big leagues, meaning Romo was already among a select few when he signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2003.

As we now know, his story was just getting started.

How Many Years Did Tony Romo Play NFL Football?

Romo spent 14 seasons in the NFL — all with the Cowboys. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois in 2003 and spent his first three seasons as an unknown backup, practicing in scout team drills and learning behind the likes of veterans Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe.

Romo finally got his first shot to take over the starting role in 2006 when the struggling Bledsoe was pulled from the second half of a matchup against the NFC East rival New York Giants. Though the Cowboys lost the game, head coach Bill Parcells anointed Romo the starter for the team’s following contest against the Carolina Panthers.

Dallas ultimately beat the Panthers 35-14, cementing Romo’s status as the team’s top quarterback moving forward. Save for games missed due to injury, the young quarterback held on to those reins for nearly 10 straight seasons, becoming the team’s first sure thing under center since Troy Aikman retired after the 2000 season.

Romo’s Cowboys fielded some of the most productive offenses of the late 2000s and early 2010s. He paired with future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten, star wideouts Terrell Owens and Dez Bryant, and productive running backs like DeMarco Murray to catapult the team’s high-powered attacks.

By the end of his career, Romo had reached the pinnacle of the Cowboys record books, at least when it came to regular season stats. He has the most passing yards (34,183) and passing touchdowns (248) in Dallas history, ahead of legends like Aikman and Roger Staubach.

But as Cowboys fans of that era know all too well, postseason success eluded Romo in a way it didn’t for his predecessors.

MORE: What Was Tony Romo’s Record on Thanksgiving?

Romo led Dallas to the playoffs in three of his first four seasons as a starter. The Cowboys were knocked from the postseason immediately in 2006, losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round, and they were booted in the Divisional Round in 2007 by the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

In 2009, Romo finally secured his first playoff victory, ousting the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round before succumbing to an absolute thrashing at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings, falling 34-3 in the Divisional Round.

The ‘Boys missed the playoffs in each of the next four seasons, going 6-10 in 2010 before a trio of 8-8 years.

Romo’s most productive and successful season came in 2014 when he completed a career-best 69.9% of his passes to the tune of 3,705 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions. He placed third in MVP voting and guided a superb offense led by Murray, who pounded his way to a whopping 1,845 rushing yards and an Offensive Player of the Year trophy.

To top it all off, the Cowboys secured the NFC East crown for the first time since 2009.

But again, postseason luck wasn’t in Dallas’ favor. While the Cowboys narrowly escaped AT&T stadium with a win over the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card round, Lambeau Field wasn’t as hospitable. Following the infamous Dez Bryant catch-no-catch that was controversially overturned on review, Dallas was defeated by Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round.

That more or less marked the end of Romo’s storied career. Due to a series of injuries, he managed to play just four games in 2015 and was unable to suit up for the first half of the 2016 season. By the time he was healthy enough to return, then-rookie fourth-round pick Dak Prescott had usurped the starting job.

Romo took the field one final time at the end of an already-decided regular-season finale in Week 17, leading a drive in which he completed the final pass of his career — a touchdown to wide receiver Terrance Williams.

MORE: Dallas Cowboys Playoff History

Romo finished his career with 34,183 passing yards, 248 passing touchdowns, 117 interceptions, a 65.3 completion percentage, four Pro Bowl nods, and a second-team All-Pro selection.

Following his retirement in 2016, Romo joined CBS as the lead color commentator alongside legendary play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz.

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