There are many wonderful NFL stories that get told, but there are just as many wonderful stories that do NOT get told. Like the time the Cowboys tried to trade for Brett Favre but couldn't because the Packers demanded they send back Tony Romo in exchange.
Wait, what?? Yes, you read that right: Romo once held up a trade that would have sent Favre from the Packers to the Cowboys and drastically altered NFL history on a number of different levels.
Before we get to that, let's hear the details, courtesy of Ed Werder on his "Doomsday Podcast" with Matt Mosley. Mosley mentioned he played golf with Romo and Werder said he also played golf with Romo "before he was Romo" (read: before he became really famous). And Romo told him that he was the reason a Favre-to-the-Cowboys trade never happened.
He talked about during the round about how the Cowboys had had an interest in trading for Favre late in his career when he was available, [Bill] Parcells was the coach.
I said, "Oh yea, I kind of heard that."
And he said, "Well you know, the deal went dead when the Packers asked for me to be in the trade."
And now I'm like, "Oh really the Cowboys didn't trade for Favre because they didn't want to give you up?" And maybe it was true as it turns out, right? He was good enough as it turns out! He had a hell of a good career!
The timeline of this isn't -- can't really -- be as cut and dry as the timeline for Favre being traded by the Packers. He was dealt in August of 2008 to the Jets after famously waffling on retirement. The 2008 season was the second year under Wade Phillips after Parcells had left Dallas, so it doesn't fit the timeline. Plus, Romo was an established starter at that point, having thrown 36 touchdowns in 2007 at the age of 27. He wasn't being dealt for Favre.
So let's move back a little bit. Parcells was the coach from 2003 through 2006 in Dallas, and there's a period of time in there where it would make sense to pinpoint as it relates to the Packers, Favre and the Cowboys. Romo was an undrafted free agent in 2003 (Parcells first year), while the Packers selected Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
So, yeah the offseason following 2005 would make a lot of sense. Favre was coming off a season where, at the age of 36 he led the league in passing attempts (607), interceptions (29) and only threw 20 touchdowns. The Packers won four games and people were wondering how much he had left in the tank. Green Bay would ultimately draft Rodgers that summer.
But it's entirely plausible they pursued a possible trade of Favre then as well, perhaps talking to Parcells and the Cowboys about swinging a deal for Favre. Remember, the 2005 Cowboys had an elderly quarterback, too, in the form of a 33-year-old Drew Bledsoe playing his final full season. Bledsoe was sacked 49 times (yikes), completed just over 40 percent of his passes and threw 23 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. The Cowboys hung their hat on Julius Jones and Marion Barber.
Parcells probably knew he wasn't long for Dallas and that getting Favre at a discount after a bad season would give him a shot to win now, with Romo waiting in the wings. Romo, at that point, had been in the program for a few years and Parcells probably knew what he had -- which is exactly why he wasn't willing to deal the young quarterback.
Turns out he made the right move, because Romo would eventually become one of the greatest quarterbacks in Cowboys history before retiring this offseason to join the NFL on CBS crew.
What's funny about this story is that Romo and Favre, who have often been compared in terms of style of play (gunslingers, etc.), put up nearly identical stats from 2006 through 2010 when Favre retired.
Tony Romo, DAL
Brett Favre, GB, NYJ, MIN
Now, clearly Romo was the better quarterback here, producing those numbers in a fewer number of starts (he didn't start every game in 2006). But he did it from the age of 26-30, while Favre was also doing it from the age of 37-41.
It makes what Favre did, in hindsight, all the more impressive. But also in hindsight: smart move by Parcells to balk at the idea of including Romo in a deal for Favre, regardless of what year the Packers and Cowboys were talking.