NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Tony Romo attends the 2018 CBS Upfront at The Plaza Hotel on May 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
Photo: Matthew Eisman/Getty Images
Photo: Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

Super Bowl 53: CBS star analyst Tony Romo’s predictive powers will be put to the test on the biggest stage

His uncanny “Romostradamus” skills wow fans

Originally posted Wednesday, January 30, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Tony Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, has become a cause célèbre as a football analyst, his knack for predicting plays before they happen turning him into a social media sensation.

The nickname "Romostradamus" became a hashtag on Twitter. 

“Is Tony Romo already the greatest TV analyst in U.S. sports?” said a breathless headline in The Guardian.

L.A. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips told the press a possible "strategy" to battle the New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: "I'm thinking about getting an earpiece and listening to Romo and he’ll tell me what the play’s going to be."


 

It's hardly a surprise that CBS is placing the passionate, excitable 38 year old in the booth for his first Super Bowl appearance Sunday with play-by-play man Jim Nantz.

“He has an ability to very succinctly analyze a play and more importantly look forward to what he thinks is going to happen, what should happen,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports.

Romo is only two years removed from the playing field and McManus is pinching himself over his good fortune for picking Romo up.

“No one has gone from the field to the solo lead analyst role like this,” he said. “Normally people come in like Troy Aikman or Cris Collinsworth and do a lesser game or take part in a three-man booth. Tony exceeded all our expectations.”

Romo’s experience on the field provides him lightning quick insight into the patterns and tendencies of the players as they set up each play, helping him make plenty of spot-on predictions. It helps that he has and remains a film fiend, spending many hours each week watching plays over and over. 

“I feel like you’re just watching the game," Romo said, "you have so many years of experience, your passion comes out and you just start talking. And you kind of just say what you see and you get lucky once in a while. I don’t think it’s anything deeper than that, other than you get lucky once in awhile.”

Romo is being modest. He is not just “lucky once in awhile.”

The Wall Street Journal studied 46 hours of tape, scanning 2,599 specific plays that Romo has called and found 72 specific predictions. He got an impressive 68 percent correct, far greater than what Romo thought when the newspaper asked him. He thought he was right only 21 percent of the time. 

Romo tends hit the predictive button late in games when the score is tight. And the bigger the game, the more often he goes there.

He shined especially bright during the tense AFC Championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots watched by 54 million people. The New Yorker reviewed Romo’s call playing that night. Of the 15 times he predicted an upcoming play, he got it right 13 times. He called passes to specific players in specific spots. The two times he was wrong? One was an incomplete pass and the other a turnover. 

During a press conference at the Georgia World Congress Center earlier this week, Romo even felt obligated to offer a silly prediction of the final score.

“I’ll keep playing my novelty act up here,” Romo said with a certain level of wariness. “I’ll go 28-24 and the team that has 24 will have the ball at the end and doesn’t score.”

While Romo was the bright shiny object at the press conference, McManus noted that the network is trying to stay ahead of the curve with the latest technological bells and whistles.

For instance, he said they’ll employ an 8K camera for the first time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on top of 16 4K cameras. TVs with 8K capability were just rolled out last year, providing four times the resolution of Ultra High Definition 4K. 

McManus also talked up "augmented reality." CBS will have 14 special cameras so virtual graphic elements will be blended into live camera shots from different perspectives. 

"This will go far beyond 1st & 10 lines from multiple angles," which has been used for many years, said Mike Francis, vice president of remote engineering and planning for CBS Sports.

In total, CBS will use 115 cameras, far more than a typical game. 

ESPN, home to Monday Night Football, is contractually restricted from airing any NFL content Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., inserting gymnastics, UFC and boxing. It will air four hours of pre-game Super Bowl programs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Atlanta, then begin its post-game analysis at 10:30 p.m. just as CBS debuts its new reality competition show "The World's Best."

"We want to own the conversation before and after the game," said Seth Markman, ESPN vice president of production. 

The network, which brought more than 300 employees down south including those for its Spanish and international networks, planted itself at Centennial Olympic Park. That's where most of its 40-plus live hours of programming out of Atlanta emanated starting this past Wednesday.

"It's got a great view of the skyline and it's near the stadium," he said. "It checks all the boxes."

And while the ESPN broadcasters will be outside, he said they should be unfazed. "We're from Connecticut," Markman said. "It's not that cold."

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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