Tony Romo rocketed to fame during his 14 seasons as the star quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys (and more recently, as an acclaimed NFL commentator on CBS), so it may surprise you to learn that football wasn’t his first love. As a teenager, a totally different sport had captured his attention: basketball.
“I really loved basketball,” he tells Men’s Journal. “That was actually my passion growing up.”
He played varsity basketball in high school (in addition to football, golf, and tennis), but ultimately chose to pursue football—a decision that launched him into a long and storied career.
“I think I chose alright,” he says.
During his time in the NFL, Romo faced all kinds of talented teams and players. Although lining up against any one of them would be enough to give most people a heart attack, Romo was quick to point out that fear isn’t a part of the equation for a pro.
“You think about it as who you have to account for,” he says.
During his time as a QB, defenders like safety Brian Dawkins and Troy Polamalu, and defensive end Michael Strahan (who, much like Romo, has also built a second career as a media personality), were all players he needed to account for on the field—otherwise things could get ugly.
With this year’s NFL season in full swing, we couldn’t resist asking Romo for his Super Bowl prediction. Ever the professional, he declined to name a specific team (“I’ve learned my lesson,” he says), but he did give us some insider intel: Keep your eye on the NFC.
“The NFC is as stacked as I’ve seen it in quite some time.”
With his playing career in the rearview mirror, Romo has traded playmaking for fatherhood, though there’s still a hefty dose of football thrown in. He has three young sons, and although only one of them is old enough to really throw a football, he’s already working to help them build the fundamentals (even if they don’t quite realize it yet).
“I’m always creating a game so they don’t know they’re learning,” he says.
Check out the full interview in the video above.
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