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.)

Why a blog? Because I said so

Does the world need another blog?

Hell, no!

I’m doing it anyway.

I blame Chuck Wendig, who keeps exhorting me, in his profane and exuberant way, to stop worrying about what anyone else may think and just do it. (Not that Chuck knows he’s exhorting me. We’ve never met. But he exhorts everyone. He’s an indiscriminate exhorter. If you want to get splattered with a little exhortation, check out his Terrible Minds blog.)

And so, this starts, with little focus, no concrete goals and a total lack of direction — just like most of the rest of my life.

But the one thing blogging offers is a glorious expanse of white, paper-like Intertubes space on which to write words. I haven’t written many words in the last few years. Entirely my own fault. So I’m going to rectify that. Somewhat regularly. Mostly (I hope) coherently. Totally for my own gratification.

I know I’ll have at least two readers. My wife, because I’ll pester her until she gives in. (I’m like a child that way.) My mother, because … well, she’s my mother. (I’m like a child that way, too.)

If anyone else wants to come along for the ride, welcome! I’ll be here semi-regularly with some semi-quality musings on anything that strikes my fancy, from sports business (my day job) to tennis, camping, hiking, TV binge-watching, beef brisket, video games and general geekiness about any new technology that comes along.

There have been many great artists (Van Gogh, for example.) (I think.) who were unappreciated in their time. If no one likes what I write here, it probably means that I’m a genius.