Tony Romo didn't take any questions during his brief press conference Tuesday, but he answered the one question that needed answering: How is he handling Dak Prescott's sudden rise, which subsequently has Romo job-less in Dallas?
Romo answered that question in rather simple terms.
"He's earned the right to be our quarterback," Romo said. "As hard as that is for me to say, he's earned that right."
And that settles the debate -- not that one was going to materialize at this point in the season. While Romo has been a damn good quarterback throughout his career, he's also 36 and can't stay healthy. Prescott, on the other hand, is a rookie who led the Cowboys to an 8-1 record. He's the team's future. The Romo era is a thing of the past.
Welcome to the Prescott era.
"I think Dak knows I have his back," Romo said. "And I know he has mine."
That doesn't mean Romo is happy to be on the sidelines. He made it clear that, while he understands why he won't be regaining his job, these past few months have been incredibly difficult. He called the injury a "soul crushing moment." He said he felt a "tremendous amount of guilt." And he made it clear that he'd love to be out there on the field.
But Prescott's level of play ensures that won't happen unless he completely collapses down the stretch. In nine games, he's completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,339 yards, 14 touchdowns, two picks, and a 106.2 passer rating. He's added 125 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Regardless of what happens next, that speech helped cement Romo's legacy. And he undoubtedly earned the respect of his teammates and players around the league.
Can't hold a real one down— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) November 15, 2016
listening to Tony Romo, the way he held himself, and spoke with so much passion shows the true character of what it means to be a competitor— Taylor Lewan (@TaylorLewan77) November 15, 2016
Outstanding from Tony Romo. Those are real emotions when your job is taken away because of injury. Much respect to him for his honesty.— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) November 15, 2016
To conclude, well, let's just let Romo wrap this one up:
"I think once you control the one inside of you, the one across from you doesn't really matter."
If this is really the end, that was one heck of an ending.
Below is Tony Romo's entire speech:
"To say the first half of the season has been emotional would be a huge understatement, getting hurt when you feel like you have the best team you've ever had was a soul-crushing moment for me. Then, to learn that it wasn't three or four weeks, but 10, was another blow.
"Through it all, you have a tremendous amount of guilt on having let your teammates, fans and organization down. After all, they're depending on you to bring them a championship. That's what quarterbacks are supposed to do. That's how we're judged. I loved that. I still do. But then here you are sidelined, without any real ability to help your teammates win on the field. That's when you're forced to come face to face with that's happening.
"Seasons are fleeting, games become more precious, chances for success diminish. Your potential successor has arrived. Your potential successor has arrived.
Injured two years in a row, now in your mid-30s. The press is whispering, everyone has doubts, you spent your career working to get here. Now we have to start all over. You almost feel like an outsider. Coaches are sympathetic, but they still have to coach, and you're not there. It's a dark place, probably the darkest it's ever been. You're sad and down and out, and you ask yourself, 'Why did this have to happen?' It's in this moment that you find out who you really are and what you're really about. You see football is a meritocracy, you aren't handed anything.
"You earn everything, every single day, over and over again. You have to prove it. That's the way the NFL, that's the way that football works. A great example of this is Dak Prescott and what he's done. He's earned the right to be our quarterback. As hard as that is for me to say, he's earned that right. He's guided the team to an 8-1 record and that's hard to do.
"If you think for a second that I don't want to be out there, then you've probably never felt the pure ecstasy of competing and winning. That hasn't left me. In fact, it may burn more now than ever. It's not always easy to watch. I think anyone who's been in this position understands that. What is clear is that I was that kid once, stepping in, having to prove yourself. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. It really is an incredible time in your life. If I remember one thing from back then, it's the people who helped me along when I was young, and if I can be that to Dak, I've tried to be, and I will be going forward.
"I think you all know that something magical is happening to our team. I'm not going to allow this situation to negatively affect Dak or this football team by coming a constant distraction. I think Dak knows that I have his back and I think I know that he has mine. Ultimately, it's about the team, that's what we've preached our entire lives.
"I remember when I was a kid just starting out wanting to be apart of something bigger than myself. For every high school kid out there and college player, there's greatness in being the kind of teammate who truly wants to be part of the team. Everyone wants to be the reason their winning or losing.
"Every single one of us wants to be that person, but there are special moments that come from a shared commitment to play a role while doing it together. That's what you remember, not your stats or your prestige, but your relationships and achievement that you created through a group. It's hard to do, but there's great joy in that. All the while, your desire burns to be the best you've ever been. You can be both, I figure that out in this process. That's what separates sports from everything else. That's why we love it. That's why we trust it, that's why I still want to play and compete.
"Lastly, I just want to leave you with something I've learned in this process as well. I feel like we have two battles or two enemies going on: One with the man across from you. The second with the man inside of you. I think once you control the one inside of you, the one across from you doesn't really matter. I think that's what we're all trying to do.
"Thanks guys. I appreciate it."