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Cowboys star Tony Romo returns home for annual camp


New contract, fatherhood, local teammate highlight press conference



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Tony Romo, a 1998 Burlington High School graduate, signs an autograph for Nick Middleton, Burlington, on Monday morning. Mike Ramczyk.

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Romo demonstrates proper throwing techniques to Delavan-Darien quarterback Jesse Collins Monday. Mike Ramczyk. (click for larger version)
June 25, 2013 | 04:12 PM
BURLINGTON — The pride of Burlington may have gotten a whole lot richer this offseason, but Tony Romo will never forget where he comes from.

On Monday, the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback, who signed a seven year, $119 million contract extension in the offseason, returned to his roots at Burlington High School for his annual Tony Romo Football Camp.

The all-position camp, which is open to third graders through incoming high school seniors, started indoors in the morning due to heavy rain but moved outside by noon. More than 200 kids attended the camp, receiving advice from Romo and other area football coaches.

Around 9 a.m. in a conference room adjacent to the football field, Romo conducted a press conference during which he talked about his 1-year-old son and the Cowboys' addition of former Big Foot star Travis Frederick, among other topics.

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Romo, 33, said he loves teaching the kids, and he stressed positive messages of hard work and self-confidence for people in all walks of life, not just football.

Here is the press conference, which included media from Milwaukee's TMJ4 and the Burlington Standard Press.

Why do you always want to come back?

TR: You're always teaching new kids. There's always different personalities. That aspect makes it enjoyable. Some kids who have been here awhile grow and get to work with me more, and it's fun.

It's great to see everybody and give back some advice that I would've loved to have at that age.

What does Burlington mean to you?

TR: Any time you grow up in a community where people have supported you, it's nice to help out when you can. I've been blessed in many different ways. It's not really a big deal. It's something you do because you appreciate the people.

What do you learn from this camp?

TR: I'm always learning football in general. You're constantly trying to improve and gain knowledge of yourself and other positions. The younger you are, you don't need all that information. But a lot of it is the message I can bring to them. I used to look up to older players. As a kid, I think it's a really neat thing.

It's been eight years now. What is it like to look back on all these years?

TR: It goes by fast. That's one thing you want to tell the kids. Some kids complain about what they have to do, but you're going to have a short period of time in your life to play football. During that time, you can embrace it. It's more about the journey than the end of it. They don't realize until it's too late. Whether it's football or school or life, just don't wait. If you attack it, you're gaining something.

How crazy is it that a kid from Walworth County (Travis Frederick) is on your team?

TR: It's rare. I didn't expect that, but Doug Free is also from here. Travis has done a great job, and he's a real smart kid. He picks things up fast, and that will help him. I'm excited about playing with him.

How's your golf game?

TR: Non-existent. I haven't played in awhile.

How's your family?

TR: I have a baby boy who is a year and two months old. He's running around and keeping us busy. We're trying to keep him from growing too fast. My wife loves rocking him. But he doesn't like to be rocked anymore. I almost have to rock her because he doesn't like to be rocked. He's already playing with little footballs.

You guys play the Packers this year. Is that still kind of cool to play them?

TR: It's cool because they're good. It will be a great test. We're going to be pretty good this year. This is one of the most complete teams that I've been around. It's going to be a very enjoyable football season.

How nice is it to enter the season with a new contract?

TR: I signed one when I first got into the league, and this is my third. It's a great thing that the team believes in you, and they think you're the guy that will take them where they want to go. It makes you work and get to a point where you can bring everybody a Super Bowl. I don't think I'll ever have a bigger signing day than when I first got to the NFL. I didn't even understand what hundreds of thousands of dollars was. When that came about, I was like, "Well, I can retire tomorrow, I have $100,000. I'll be able to do whatever I want to do." That was still the biggest.

Have you changed your approach at all this year?

TR: You're always planning long term as an organization. In the NFL, every year is important. Things change quickly. I've had three coaches in seven years. You see the turnover rate in general. There's only a few players left from when I joined the team. You understand how important every single season is. As a player, you still attack it the same way and work your butt off. We have a good collection of veteran guys and young guys.

Is it tough dealing with this day and age of social media?

TR: If you're a leader, you get way too much of the credit and the other side as well. I learned I enjoy and crave competition in general. Winning a Super Bowl is the ultimate challenge. It's fun to get better and bring everyone else with you. I was lucky enough to grow up right before the social media age. Especially when you're younger, everybody wants to have more friends and have more people like you. You have to watch out because what you say isn't just there now, it's there forever. You don't know where your life is going to lead, and things you say can affect your family and other people. There should almost be classes on how to utilize social media.

How do you respond to your critics?

TR: You learn through experience. I can remember the first year I started playing, and I just didn't understand why there was negative criticism. I was like, "I thought I met that guy and he was nice?" If you're doing anything in the public eye, that's part of it. For high school kids, they're dealing with the social aspect. They want everybody to like them and be part of the "cool" group, whatever that is. The older you get, you have to be who you are.

For kids, it's hard because we so badly want to be "in." People can't control you emotionally unless you allow them. I just learned awhile back that it doesn't help or hurt our football team. I have to move along and get back to work. That gives me the best chance for success. That's what you're trying to do in any aspect of life. You're saying, "I may have had a great game today, but I have to get better tomorrow." You're competing for the days ahead. It's a mindset.

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