JACKEL: Romo stays true to roots

JACKEL: Romo stays true to roots

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In a recent edition of Sports Illustrated, four professional athletes were asked what advice they would give Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Chance Meyers, defender for the Kansas City Wizards soccer team, offered this: "Keep smiling for the cameras."

Ryan Church, right fielder for the New York Mets, simply said, "Good luck."

Adam Dunn, left fielder for the Cincinnati Reds, curiously advised Romo to "Run, get out of the way."

And Kevin Ingram, wide receiver for the Arena League Los Angeles Avengers, said, "Have Jessica watch his games from home."

Cute stuff, but rather insubstantial, wouldn't you say? You can raise a smile with that kind of advice, but you can't raise a son.

What wasn't in that issue of Sports Illustrated was the advice Racine native Ramiro Romo used to give his only son while spending quality time with him in Burlington back in the 1980s. But then, a society that seems to increasingly value sudden-impact entertainment over substance probably would wave a dismissive hand at Ramiro's 1950s sitcom morality.

"I used to tell him, No. 1, to always maintain who you are - where you came from, who you are, your beliefs and your faith in God," Ramiro said. "And I told him, 'Don't change. Continue to be the same person you are. And whatever endeavor that you take part in in your life, give it your all."

And now his son has arguably the highest-profile position in any sport and has emerged as an "A" list celebrity for the gossip magazines. Whether Tony Romo is throwing passes to Terrell Owens or supposedly making passes on the dance floor of some nightclub, so much of this society needs its Tony fix.

Read what you want. Believe what you will. The reality is Tony still is Ramiro's only son, not just a cover story for some gossip magazine.

Furthermore, he's a loving son. A son who remembers anxiously awaiting for his tired father to return home from another long day at some construction site so they could play catch in the backyard.

Ramiro never forgot his son back then. And his son has never forgotten his father.

"I don't care if he got home from 10 hours of work of 12 hours of work," Tony Romo said. "He'd come home and I would have just been sitting there for four hours, so I would be ready to go. But he would say, 'Yeah, yeah, let's go!' And he'd go out there and get some gloves on.

"I hold a special place in my heart for someone who gives up some of themselves for me."

But then, Ramiro and Joan Romo only passed along to their three children what they remembered from their own childhoods.

Ramiro, a 1975 graduate of the now defunct St. Bonaventure High School, learned those same values while growing up at 410 English Street in Racine. The same goes for the former Joan Jakubowski, a 1974 Park graduate, while she was growing up at 1701 Center Street.

"My father never had much as far as education, but the things he accomplished just encouraged me to go out and be the best I could be at whatever I was doing," Ramiro said. "A lot of the stuff that I have passed on and my wife has passed on to Tony and our other children (daughters Danielle and Jossalyn) and have been able to maintain is just because of the stuff we got from our parents.

"And that's just basically our faith and our hard-work ethic. Those are all the things that we know."

Despite what you may read from publications that might not particularly care to know the whole truth, that's still all Tony knows. Has he had his share of fun? Well, why in the world wouldn't a 28-year-old millionaire celebrity have his share of fun?

But this already tight family bond in the Romo family has only strengthened under the white-hot glare of Tony's celebrity status. Never was that more evident than last September, when Ramiro was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

" 'Tone' was very interested, as were my daughters, with everything going on and how I was going to get this solved," Ramiro said. "I've got to give a shout out to Kenny Kremer, Tony's agent, because he basically did all the footwork to find one of the top doctors in the nation that I was able to go and get treated by."

Ramiro was medically cleared in January and has since turned his attention full-time toward working for his son, for whom he coordinates Tony's business interests on a full-time basis.

Having such a high-profile celebrity for a son can get a little difficult, such as when strangers stop and stare at the Romo's Burlington home or even knock on their door. And it sure can get downright irritating when the Romos come across frequent celebrity gossip about their son which they know isn't true.

Ramiro is about as kind and sweet-tempered as they come. But ask him about all this gossip, especially concerning Jessica Simpson, and you'll hear an edge quickly develop in his voice.

"You know what? All of it is untrue," Ramiro said. "It's just a magazine that is trying to sell their publication and dirt sells. I just want everyone to know that none of the stuff they're writing is true.

"Everything is between Jessica and Tony. We know Jessica, we know her family and they are outstanding people. But we do not comment on their personal lives."

It's been said that great people talk about ideas, ordinary people talk about events and small people talk about other people. And it's a given that love endures.

The Romo family has that love. Take it from someone who knows.

"Oh, I really can't even put it into words sometimes, because I know I wouldn't be in the position I'm in without him," Tony Romo said of his father. "He's been there through everything - the good and the bad times. He's been someone who, if you needed a little bit of pushing, he pushed you and if you needed a little backing off, he backed off.

"He's the perfect dad. He doesn't do anything more than be a dad and that's who you need when you want to get through life a certain way."

Peter Jackel is a reporter for The Journal Times. You can reach him by calling (262) 634-3322, Ext. 323 or by e-mailing him at: peter.jackel@lee.net

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