Woody Paige: Tony Romo, John Elway have a closer relationship than many realize

March 7, 2017 Updated: March 8, 2017 at 7:29 am
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All's quiet on the AFC western front.

On the first day of "legal tampering" (oxymoron?) the Broncos, the Raiders, the Chiefs and the Carson California Chargers were crickets.

The Chargers released three veterans; the Raiders signed up for Bank of America ATM cards, and the Chiefs and the Broncos put one-year "love me" tenders on restricted free agents.

Ho. Hum.

Couldn't somebody in this division have worked up a fake news story better than "Broncos do some slight sniffing of Danny Woodhead and Other Marionettes"?

So, pro tem, QB or not QB, that is the question for the Broncos.

As I opined in a column weeks ago, to twist a 12th century French proverb, Romo will not be built in a day.

An impeccable NFL source - one of three who gave me the national scoop a year ago at this time that Peyton Manning would be retiring - told me Tuesday afternoon that the Broncos indeed are No. 1 on Tony Romo's wish list. If he is released soon, Romo intends to visit Denver and Dove Valley first and meet with John Elway, Joe Ellis, Vance Joseph and Mike McCoy.

Another knowledgeable league source said Romo would be interested only in joining the Broncos, the Texans, the Chiefs and, rather surprisingly, the Rams. Romo, the source claimed, would take less guaranteed salary, with significant bonus incentives, to play for the Broncos for two-three seasons.

Chiefs general manager John Dorsey has declared that the franchise will stay with Alex Smith and not be involved in a Romo pursuit. The Texans would have to commit to at least $34 million in quarterback outlay ($19 mil to Brock Osweiler in salary and prorated bonus, and about $15 million for Romo). The Rams aren't expected to be contenders, but Romo would be the starter over Jared Goff, could secure the most money (approaching $20 million a year), would be working with a new Los Angeles staff (including his former Dallas head coach - Wade Phillips) and live in California, which might charm Romo's wife Candice, who will be giving birth to the couple's third son during training camp in August.

Tony and Candice do like Colorado. They spent vacations in Aspen in 2014, during the Cowboys' bye week, and again in February, 2015. Manning, a source said, suggested in a conversation with Romo that Denver is an excellent city to play football, live and raise children.

Romo and Elway have a closer relationship than generally is realized. They unintentionally, but fortuitously, ran across each other and had a brief exchange at a party in Washington during the inauguration. More important, the two previously played golf, hung out and had a serious competitive rivalry for years at the American Century celebrity/athletes summer tournament in Lake Tahoe.

A first-round match in 2011 featured Elway, Romo and Michael Jordan. Beginning in 2007, Elway and Romo regularly were among the top amateur finishers. Romo placed ahead of Elway three times; Elway got the best of the pair in another year, and they tied for second in 2010.

Several years ago at that tournament, I met, and spent some quality time, with Romo - a genuinely good and funny guy.

Because of his recent injuries, Romo, who had been considered the best current golfer playing in the NFL, gave up the game. But Romo would make a remarkable best-ball partner with Elway.

And football partner.

In his 13 years in the league, Romo's never had a losing record in a season with more than six starts. After retirement, he is expected to follow the Elway plan of becoming an NFL executive. Elway could mentor Romo as he did John Lynch.

Romo was very impressed with the offense McCoy utilized with the Broncos (and Manning) and the Chargers (and Philip Rivers). McCoy obviously would tailor a scheme to fit Romo's strengths.

Romo grew up in Burlington, Wis., and was a high school quarterback when Brett Favre starred for the Packers. But Romo admitted years ago he was "a bigger fan of John Elway" and pulled for the Broncos to win Super Bowl XXXII.

What if he followed Elway and Manning as a Broncos' Super Bowl-winning quarterback?

The Western front certainly wouldn't be quiet.

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