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Lyons resident Ty Dennis (click for larger version)
June 26, 2012 | 03:58 PMBURLINGTON — Tony Romo never gets tired of returning to his roots.
The Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl quarterback and 1998 Burlington High School graduate became a father in his busy offseason, but on Monday morning, he made sure to find a way to attend his eighth annual Tony Romo Football Camp at Burlington High School.
The annual camp features football instruction for all positions for incoming seventh-graders through seniors, and around 45 area coaches offered their knowledge. Ideal weather including cool breezes and sunny skies accompanied the athletes from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Burlington High School football coach Hans Block, one of Romo's former coaches, said the camp is a great learning tool for prospective football players.
"This is fantastic for the kids," Block said. "I think it's great that we have 45 coaches that basically do this for nothing. The goal is for the kids to learn from quality coaches. They can take something home to improve as a player. Hopefully, kids can take a team and leadership concept to make their teammates better. Of course, hanging with Romo is great, too. He's a great person to be around. He doesn't change much. With all he's been privileged to do and have, he's still like how he was when we coached him in high school."
What's turned into a two-day event was cut short to one day this summer. Originally, it was a four-day event. Block said Romo made sure to go out of his way to make the camp.
"Tony gives so much to us just to be here," Block said. "He just got done with a golf tournament in Janesville, and he has some time to spend with his family."
Kids traveled from as far away as Kimberly and Neenah to improve their games and meet Romo. A humble yet popular star, Romo made it a point Monday to offer expertise to just about every athlete, regardless of position. In speeches to wide receivers and cornerbacks, Romo stressed speed and staying in the best condition possible. Throughout the day, Romo spoke about the importance of improvement.
"The attitude to compete every day with yourself goes a long way," Romo said to the crowd just before the camp.
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Romo, 32, boasts a career passer rating of 96.9, the second best all-time. In 2011, Romo helped lead the Cowboys to an 8-8 record while passing for 4,184 yards and 31 touchdowns. On April 9, Romo and wife, Candace, welcomed a son, Hawkins Crawford Romo.
During a press conference Monday morning at Burlington High School, Romo spoke to local media outlets about becoming a father, the NFL's bounty scandal and the Cowboys' chances for the upcoming 2012 season.
What's it like being back home and being at camp?
TR: For one, it feels good to come back and see mom and dad and everybody. But to give back to the community, it's important to me. It's a good feeling to know you can help some kids out.
How are things different now that you're a father?
TR: I definitely come in here more tired. A lot of family and friends have kids that you know. But until you have kids, you don't know that unconditional love that you have. It gives me a little more patience.
Do you worry about suffering concussions when you're on the field?
TR: You almost can't play the game worried about possible consequences. When I say that, you need to take all of the steps to be healthy. You play the game the right way, and you learn the game the right way from the coaches. As we grow and learn more about concussions, it'll help the overall cause.
The NFL recently cracked down on (New Orleans Saints head coach) Sean Payton and other NFL players for a bounty scandal. What are your thoughts?
TR: I think the league cracked down on that. They are obviously making sure that doesn't happen again. I think player safety is obviously very important, not just at the NFL, but at the lower level. It will trickle down to make it safer at all levels. All these things are just going to be steps that can help that.
How important is it to work on getting better?
TR: If every time it looked like I was done, if I had listened, I would have been done a long time ago. You just have to have an inner drive. Every morning, you wake up with a choice. You don't know where you can be one, two years from now. Make good choices, not ones that'll adversely affect you.
Is the clock ticking with this (Dallas Cowboys) team?
TR: Any time you have a couple of key components of your team that have played in the league awhile, I think that's just part of the questions. But we also have some young guys that can play. I think we've seen over and over again how many of these guys can play later on. There's still a sense of urgency on the field every year. It's about right now.