Hot QBs, hot times
See images of NFL quarterback stars such as Tom Brady, Tony Romo, who are as popular off the field as they are on.
IRVING, Texas - Tony Romo was doing what all the Dallas Cowboys were told to do when the quarterback spent the bye weekend before their playoff game lounging at a Mexico resort with Jessica Simpson.
“We used it as a vacation, got our minds off football. That’s what Wade (Phillips) told us to do,” said teammate Jason Witten, who along with his wife, was with Romo. “It’s no different than jumping on a flight and going home like a lot of guys did here.”
Their getaway over, and tabloid pictures already posted on the Internet for all to see, Romo and Witten were back at Valley Ranch on Monday when the top-seeded Cowboys (13-3) returned to work finally knowing who they will face in the playoffs.
Dallas will play the New York Giants for the third time this season, Sunday at Texas Stadium in the first playoff meeting between the NFC East rivals.
“They know us, we know them pretty well too,” defensive end Chris Canty said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence.”
While the Cowboys had an extended weekend away from the field, New York won 24-14 at Tampa Bay in the NFC wild-card game Sunday to advance. It was the Giants’ eighth straight road victory since losing at Texas Stadium in the season opener four months ago.
Everybody took part in the team’s light walkthrough Monday, even injured wide receiver Terrell Owens, though he was limited because of a sprained left ankle and his status for the game is still uncertain.
Owens was still limping during his first team drills since he got hurt in the first half Dec. 22 at Carolina when his leg got caught underneath him while being tackled.
“It looks to me that it’s going to be a game-time decision on him,” coach Wade Phillips said. “It’s Monday game week. He probably couldn’t have played today.”
Owens, who caught nine passes for 212 yards and four touchdowns against the Giants this season, wasn’t seen in the locker room when it was open to reporters Monday.
Romo was there, but only chitchatted about golf. He is expected to answer media questions Wednesday, as he did on game weeks throughout most of the regular season.
This wasn’t the first time that Romo went to Mexico, then came right back to work. The Pro Bowl quarterback was a judge for the Miss Universe pageant in Mexico City last May, then flew back to Texas for a minicamp the next day.
Phillips insisted that he wasn’t bothered by what Romo, or anybody else, did during their off time.
“We had players go to Kansas City, go home wherever,” Phillips said. “No, I don’t have any problem with it, as long as they got away from football, relaxed a little bit and were ready to go today. And they were. All of them were ready.”
Still, none of the weekend trips got as much attention as Romo and Witten in Mexico.
Paparazzi snapped several pictures of Romo and Simpson walking arm-in-arm. A shirtless Witten can be seen in some of the images with the celebrity couple.
Witten said it was good to “get away from the circus” of being home and having to worry about playoff tickets and other off-the-field distractions.
“Just for Tony, the thing he’s doing is go out and get his mind off of it. He can’t go anywhere here, so the best thing he can do is get on a 1½-hour flight and get away, and really relax,” Witten said. “We put ourselves in position to be able to get away and relax.”
The coach, meanwhile, spent most of the weekend at Valley Ranch getting ready for the team’s first home playoff game in nine years.
“Yeah, I was thinking about going to Goliad myself,” Phillips joked, referring to the South Texas town where his father, Bum, lives on a ranch. “It’s kind of a hot place at this time of year.”
After winning the opener 45-35, then 31-20 at New York in November, the Cowboys have a chance to complete the first three-game season sweep in team history and get to the NFC championship game for the first time in 12 years.
“I’m thinking about beating them one time. I’m not worried about what we did in the past,” safety Ken Hamlin said.
“We’ve got (confidence), but they don’t want to go out a third time,” receiver Patrick Crayton said. “They are 1-0 in the playoffs, we are 0-0. This is a whole new season. Whatever went on in the regular season doesn’t matter. This is win or go home.”
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