IRVING, Texas — Any hope the Dallas Cowboys had of getting Tony Romo on the field for Sunday’s winner-take-all game for the NFC East title was lost Friday morning when the quarterback had back surgery. The Cowboys placed him on injured reserve.
Jon Kitna, 41, who came out of retirement and signed Wednesday, is the only other quarterback on the roster.
When Kitna came out of retirement earlier this week to help as the Cowboys’ third quarterback, he not only was helping the Cowboys in an emergency situation to prepare for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, but he also will be coming to the aid of the impoverished Lincoln High School athletic department in Tacoma.
Romo suffered a herniated disk against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, and while sources indicated all week the surgery was necessary and he was likely out for the Eagles game, the Cowboys waited to see if daily treatment as well as an epidural steroid injection to reduce inflammation would alleviate the discomfort and allow him to get on the field.
But Romo’s back was not getting better after the team exhausted all options on treatments and decided late Thursday to have Romo undergo surgery, coach Jason Garrett said.
Backup Kyle Orton will start at quarterback against the Eagles, with newly signed Jon Kitna serving as his backup.
“We spent the week exhausting all options in regards to Tony’s situation — treatment, rehab, all the different things, consulted a lot of different people on this,” Garrett said. “We just felt like as we discussed it, as yesterday wore on, this was the best decision for him and for the organization moving forward, and we felt like it was better to have this done sooner rather than later.”
Garrett said he talked to Romo, and the 11th-year veteran quarterback was “devastated” by the decision.
“He puts a lot into this,” Garrett said.
There is no question the Cowboys are devastated as well, considering their hopes for this season and the decision last spring to give Romo a $108 million contract extension, with $55 million guaranteed.
Owner Jerry Jones said the decision for Romo to have surgery now was in the best interest of Romo and the team.
Jones expects Romo on the field for organized team activities in May in preparation for the start of the 2014 season.
“It was apparent (Thursday) that he was not responding. We were advised by many people that the quicker you relieve the discomfort, the quicker the long-term recovery,” Jones said Friday on his weekly radio show on KRLD/105.3 FM. “My expectation is that one of the pluses for having had it done as early as this morning is that it would really contribute to him being able to get right there when it comes time for the team to be in OTAs and do the preparation, the beginning of the preparation for next year.
“So we would anticipate him being right on time there and expect it, and we’ll s