The following blog post was written by Robert Berry, DO, the Medical Director of Sports Medicine at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. Dr. Berry is a board certified orthopedic surgeon interested in Sports Medicine. Over his career, he has worked with several sports teams, including the San Diego Chargers.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has had two previous back surgeries so, although I have not treated him, his injury Monday night is concerning for fans.
Based on the video of Romo’s injury, I don’t think a mechanism for neurological injury existed, but the the direct blow could cause a transverse process fracture similar to that of Baylor University quarterback Bryce Petty. That injury limited him early in the season.
Romo did have a pad over the area of injury, which may have given him some protection. Most likely, in cases like this, he could have sustained a bad contusion or bruise to the spine and surrounding musculature.
The fact that he returned to Monday night’s game is a good sign to all Cowboys fans. As a former NFL physician, I’m confident that if a real risk existed, no matter how much Romo pleaded to return, the experienced Cowboys medical staff would have held their ground and prevented him from returning.
The Cowboys are one of few NFL teams to have their spine surgeon on the sidelines with them and he was there and evaluated Romo after his injury.
Romo has said he’ll play on Sunday against Arizona if the pain is tolerable. I’d expect him to be sore, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start and play the full game. The team’s strong offensive line will have an even greater charge from team owner Jerry Jones to protect Romo and his back.
In my own expert fan opinion, with a healthy Romo, I believe the Cowboys can win the NFC and contend for a Super Bowl championship.