Free Tony Romo? QB might have to free himself from Jerry Jones, retire to TV gig

Jerry Jones is still toying with Tony Romo's future and doesn't intend to stop. Romo can stop it, although that would mean an end to his playing career.

Tony Romo had better be in some NFL team’s stadium next season.

Not in uniform, though. Not in harm's way.And not under the thumb of anybody who would have the power over his livelihood the way Jerry Jones has, and can flex it as crudely and as self-centered as the Cowboys owner/GMis now.

The 36-year-old by then should be in a position free ofanyone havingto start a "Free Romo"movement — which, actually, someone should start immediately and continue as long as Jones keeps playing these games with Romo's career, as he made clearat the annual league meetingthis week he plans to do as long as he feels like it.

Nope, Romo needs to be in a broadcast booth in 2017, CBS's or elsewhere.

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And no, before anybody starts (and somebody already has, to be sure), this is not to demand that Romo give up his dream of still playing against his will. Yes, the hope here is that he walks away from the sport that has beaten him up, down and all around the last few years, while he still can. No, thatdecision remainsup to him.

But if Romodoes want to finish his career on his terms … is that even happening right now?

The Cowboys are making him finish it on their terms. Why?

The answer is simple, and it's one teams in every sport for the entire existence of sports have used:

Because they can.

Sure, Jones told reporters in so many words, we could release Romo; we could have released him weeks ago. We could allow one of the best quarterbacks in our storied history — the player who defined this franchise for more than a decade through thick and thin, who gave up his body for us — to pick his next team on his ownand be in control of the final stage of his own career.

But, Jones essentially continued, how does that help us?

Of course, Romo clearly has figured this out already. Stories like thatof CBS’s interestdon't trickle out by accident. Not to say Romo is the one who let it get out. But you've got to love the message it sends out on Romo’s behalf. He’s got to love it, too.

You've got your maybes, Jerry? So do I.

And to play Monday-morning quarterback a little longer, the timing of another NFL Network report, aboutRomo distancing himselfand taking the dangling games by the Cowboys "very personally,"paired nicely with the report of CBS’s interest dropping two days later.

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If you had to pick between the two conflicting scenarios for which leaves Romo with the most self-respect and autonomy after 13 years with the organization … come on, that one’s not hard to pick.

The Cowboys and Jones would certainly part with Romo on good terms and with the friendship and gratitude their long relationship had earned.

They'd have no choice.

Kind of how they're making it so Romo has no choice now.

Kind of how they're giving his supporters the urge to make a hashtag, print up t-shirts, fly a banner over Jerry World:

Free Romo.

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