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'We are so blessed': Grandparents proud of Romo's success

Tony Romo's grandparents speak about his successes.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo poses for a photo with paternal grandparents Felicita and Ramiro Romo Sr. before a training camp workout at the Alamodome in 2010.

It doesn't happen very often in this business, but sometimes stories fall into place. Or, put another way, sometimes a guy just gets lucky, as I did earlier this week.

Driving downtown to get my media credentials for the Alamo Bowl and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, I made a mental note to call Tony Romo's paternal grandparents that day and get their take on the stellar season he and the Cowboys are having.

I wrote my first story about Felicita and Ramiro Romo, who lived in San Antonio for three years in the 1980s, after their grandson became the Cowboys' starting quarterback in 2006.

Four years later, I met Romo's grandparents when they were in San Antonio for the Cowboys' training camp at the Alamodome. They were as friendly and gracious in person as they had been when I talked to them by phone, making it easy to talk with them about Romo.

Felicita and Ramiro Romo Sr. have lived in Crockett, an East Texas town with a population of about 7,000, since they moved from San Antonio in 1989. They attend all of the Cowboys' home games and will be at AT&T Stadium on Sunday for the team's playoff clash with the Detroit Lions.

Given that background, imagine my surprise Tuesday when Robert Romo (no relation), an executive with Walmart who works as a volunteer with the All-American Bowl, handed me his cell phone after I got my credentials at the Grand Hyatt hotel.

"I've got somebody who wants to say hi to you," Robert Romo said, handing me his phone.

"Hello," I said.

"Señor Flores, como está (how are you)?" the voice on the other end said. "Habla Ramiro Romo." ("Ramiro Romo speaking.")

See what I mean about getting lucky sometimes?

After exchanging pleasantries and talking with Ramiro about Tony and the Cowboys briefly, I told him that I wanted to write a story about him and his wife, and their relationship with the quarterback before Sunday's playoff game.

"We are very proud of Antonio and what the Cowboys have done this season," Ramiro said. "I'll be glad to talk with you later today."

I called the Romo home early that evening and had a good, long chat with both grandparents about Tony, his upbringing, his Super Bowl dreams as a kid and, among other things, his Hispanic heritage. Felicita and Ramiro are bilingual, but most of my interview with them was in Spanish.

"The difference between this season and the other years is that Antonio has never had a team like this around him," Ramiro said. "He's never had this kind of help. He's more relaxed now because the Cowboys have a better overall team."

"Even when the Cowboys didn't make the playoffs and were far away from playing in the Super Bowl, Antonio never lost faith. He would tell me, 'Grandpa, we're going to win the Super Bowl one of these years.' Well, it looks like that could be possible this season."

Christened Antonio Ramiro Romo – his father, Ramiro Jr., is Hispanic and his mother, Joan, is of Polish-German descent – the Cowboys' quarterback always has been close to his paternal grandparents. His grandfather often calls him "Antonio" in media interviews.

Ramiro Romo Sr., 81, was born in Muzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico, but moved to San Antonio when he was in his teens. He lived in the city for about five years before moving to Racine, Wis., where he later met Felicita.

Felicita Rios Romo, 80, was born in Robstown and moved to Racine with her family when she was 12. The Romos were married in 1955 in Racine, and lived there until 1980. Besides Ramiro Jr., 57, Felicita and Ramiro have an adopted son, Mustafa John Romo, who lives in Appleton, Wis.

"We are so blessed," Felicita said. "Our family has come so far from where we started. I'm so thankful to God. I'm so encouraged by what Tony and the Cowboys have been able to do this season."

Tony Romo is the youngest of three children born to Joan and Ramiro Jr., who live in Burlington, Wis. Tony, 34, was born in San Diego when his father was in the Navy, but grew up in Burlington. He played college football at Eastern Illinois and signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2003.

"Playing pro football is not an easy job," Felicita Romo said. "And playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is not easy. But Tony has always been very competitive. I remember he used to tell me, 'Grandma, everything is possible.' He is always very optimistic. Since he was 8 years old, it was his dream to play pro football. He always wanted to play in the Super Bowl."

Tony Romo doesn't speak Spanish, but his grandfather has no doubt he could learn the language.

"Tony was brought up to never be embarrassed by what he is," Ramiro Sr., said, referring to his ethnicity. "He knows he's Antonio Ramiro Romo. He has many Hispanic fans who are proud of him and support him. Not only in the United States, but in Mexico and even Colombia.

"He wants us to move to Dallas, so I can teach him how to speak Spanish. If I had a chance to spend more time around him, he could learn to speak it because I would encourage him and he learns very quickly. He said it's my fault because his father didn't speak Spanish. My son spoke Spanish until he was 14, but then he got away from it."

That a Mexican immigrant would someday have a grandson playing quarterback for one of pro football's iconic franchises, Ramiro Sr. said, is a testament to the power of the American dream.

"I came to this country with very little," the grandfather said. "But I worked hard and was able to provide for my family. This is still the country of opportunity, and Tony's career is proof of that."

Ramiro Sr., a deacon in the Catholic church, baptized Candice and Tony Romo's two sons, Hawkins, 2, and Rivers, 9 months.

"We are a very close family," Felicita Romo said.

It shows.

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