Behind the Scenes: The Twitter uproar over CBS hiring Tony Romo


New CBS analyst Tony Romo

A few weeks ago, SBJ’s media writer, John Ourand, just about broke Twitter (or at least many sports business feeds) when he reported that Tony Romo would retire from the NFL and join CBS as the network’s No. 1 NFL analyst.

A surprising number of the responses came from people critical of Phil Simms, who Romo is replacing in the broadcast booth. Now Simms has recently landed as part of CBS’ studio show.

Shortly after he wrote the original Romo story, I asked John a few questions about it:

This story blew up on Twitter to a degree that is unusual for a sports business story. You’ve reported on announcer teams and changes before. Were you surprised by the interest in this one?

OURAND: Yeah, I was a little surprised. I broke the news of Mike Tirico leaving ESPN for NBC – a story I thought had a lot of Twitter attention. But the attention really just came from media observers. With Tony Romo, the Twitter activity came from NFL fans, too. I mean, he was the quarterback of the most popular NFL team. The news was amplified by people like Adam Schefter (6.1M followers), Bill Simmons (5.69M followers) and Ian Rapoport (1.29M followers). That made my mentions blow up, making it impossible to keep up with them.

You were asked on Twitter about the risk that CBS is taking on an announcer with absolutely no experience, and you said that not a single television executive you’ve talked to has any doubt that Romo will be a success. How can they be so sure? And what’s the downside if they are wrong?

By Tony Florez
This may be John’s only chance to share a blog appearance with Tony Romo.

OURAND: Former Fox executive Ed Goren says that you can’t teach personality. Tony Romo has personality and charm. He has an ability to connect with the audience, displayed through Instagram videos and his on-air comment ceding the starting QB job to Dak Prescott. TV executives have seen a side of Romo that we haven’t. They all met with Romo before Cowboys games, when Romo would talk about game strategy and things the networks should look for. He was able to articulate hardcore NFL strategy in lay terms, while charming his audience. TV executives say he is a can’t miss broadcaster.

I know you enjoyed reporting this story and seeing the reaction to it. Do any of the responses you received stand out more than others?

OURANDI am always surprised at the venom leveled at Phil Simms. He seems like an inoffensive broadcaster to me. But if you go on Twitter and look through my mentions, people were rejoicing. Stories like this always remind me how much people care about sports, down to the people that call the games.

Many thanks for John for answering my questions, and for acknowledging the Cowboys as the most popular NFL team. (Reminder: We’ll be honoring Cowboys owner Jerry Jones with a Lifetime Achievement Award this month at the 2017 Sports Business Awards in New York.)