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Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo’s Fractured Back Dr. John Michels Explains Live At ABC Studios


Marie: ESPN is reporting that Romo suffered a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra. You see here, that’s in the lower part of the spine. It’s about even with the lowest rib. When a bone in the spine collapses, it’s called a vertical compression fracture, and you can see where something like landing hard after a hit in football would push the bones down and compress them. We talked to a doctor who handles this type of injury.

Doctor Michel: Depending on the severity of the type of fracture, the fact that the Cowboys are being a little hush hush about it, if it’s a minor fracture, it’s going to be a matter of allowing this to heal. Not allowing this to progress any further to where there could be some instability of his spine.

Marie: We’ll have more from the doctor and what this injury means ahead tonight on News 8 at 10:00. Ted Madden is here with me looking at the team’s future. But first we want to start to reporter Hannah Davis. She’s live out at Cowboys’ new headquarters in Frisco with more tonight. Hannah?

Hannah reporter: Well, Marie, we first got that chance to talk with the Cowboys organization for the first time since Romo got this injury. And we also talked to a doctor who says, this injury may be worse than all the rest.

Steven Jones: I actually talked to him right after he got the news.

Hannah reporter: For the first time, we’re hearing from Steven Jones from the Cowboys organization about Tony Romo.

Steven Jones: You know, Tony is a competitor. He said we’re going to get through this quickly, and efficiently, and I want to get back as soon as possible to help us do what we need to achieve our goals, which is to contend for a championship.

Hannah reporter: Jones didn’t go into specifics of the injury, except to say Romo is focused on getting better, and in the meantime, the Cowboys are focused on finding the best fit for their team.

Doctor Michels: It’s speculated that he suffered an L1 vertebral body compression fracture.

Hannah reporter: Dallas based pain and spinal injury specialist John Michels does not treat Tony Romo. But the former NFL player knows about on the field injuries.

Doctor Michels: As a competitor at that level, you know that there’s someone always waiting in the wing wanting to take your job. So you want to play.

Hannah reporter: Knee problems cut his career with the Green Bay Packers short. We asked him about Romo’s injury. He says this one is much more serious than Romo’s 2014 back injury.

Doctor Michels: It’s where you really see his back crunched down forward. And that’s what I saw, and was really concerned for Tony Romo’s health. Especially when he went down and instantly reached for his back. Because it’s that kind of compression injury that can be very serious.

Fan: He’s 36.

Speaker 6: Right, safety over the top.

Fan: I like him. I think when he’s healthy, he’s a great player.

Speaker 6: Punt to the post!

Hannah reporter: Fans aren’t so sure. This is Romo’s fourth major injury. And while they’re rooting for their quarterback, they say, they’ve seen this before.

Fan: He’s sort of delicate. He’s got to be, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I am worried about it.

Speaker 6: Important cog in the wheel.

Hannah reporter: And Marie, again, the big question is just how bad is this break, and what does it mean for Romo and the Cowboys going forward? Again, that doctor says it really could range, and only time will tell.

Speaker 7: What does this latest back issue mean for Mr. Romo? Doctor John Michels knows about the pain from football. He’s a former NFL first round draft choice, until a knee injury ended his career. Now Dr. Michels says all those back injuries Tony Romo has suffered in recent years, including Thursday, are different.

Doctor Michels: And when he was playing, he was very effective as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. I would not suspect that he would be unable to recover from this injury, and come back and perform at the highest level of the game.

Speaker 7: The latest injury, one of a series affecting Tony Romo’s either back or shoulder over the last couple of years. We spoke with a medical specialist to actually help you gain a better handle of the situation.

Doctor Michels: This is a different injury altogether.

Speaker 7: Dr. John Michels specializes in pain management. The former NFL player has photos on the walls, documenting his days of dishing out that pain. Today, he offered a breakdown of this latest injury to Tony Romo’s back.

Doctor Michels: The injury that he suffered when Cliff Avril came over the top as Tony began to slide was a compression type injury. You saw his spine flex forward. And it’s that kind of stress put through the vertebral body that led to the fracture.

Speaker 7: Dr. Michels says the confirmed fracture remains a mystery in terms of severity. He believes it will take weeks to heal. But is this a sign of Romo physically wearing thin in the take no prisoners world of pro football?

Doctor Michels: Tony still has that competitive advantage. Tony is not playing afraid on the football field. So he’s got the right mindset to come back from this injury, and to be a successful quarterback in this league.

Hannah reporter: Let’s talk about Tony Romo. It is the news still buzzing through north Texas as the Cowboys work to move forward after an MRI revealed a broken bone in quarterback Tony Romo’s back. Fox’s Alison Harris has reactions to Romo’s latest injury.

Tony Romo: That was a probably as tough a hit I took on the back as I’ve had in the last five years. You know, you’re going to a slide and then all of a sudden you’re crunched like that.

Alison Harris: That was Tony Romo Thursday after a preseason game against Seattle in which he was hit from behind, and fell into an awkward slide, on just the third play of the game. Now Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garret says Romo broke a bone in his back during that hit. Romo thought he was okay, but Garret says Friday, Romo woke up feeling stiff. An MRI revealed Romo’s fourth back injury in less than four years. This time, a compression fracture in his vertebrae.

Doctor Michels: Coming forward, this leads to these compression fractures of the vertebral bodies.

Alison Harris: Dr. John Michels of Spine Dallas is a former NFL player, a Super Bowl champion with the Green Bay Packers, who watched the game Thursday.

Doctor Michels: Because the way that he got bent over with Cliff Avril coming over his top, that’s where, like I said, we see fractures of these vertebral bodies. Because our spine, like I said, can bend backwards okay. But when you come forward, it doesn’t handle those flexion injuries very well.

Alison Harris: Michels says he knew it was a severe injury when he heard Romo say this after the game.

Tony Romo: You crunch, and so your back gets squished, I guess you could say. If someone gave you a stinger on your shoulder, or something. Or it just feels hot for a second.

Alison Harris: The Cowboys won’t rule Romo out for the regular season opener September 11 against the New York Giants. But NFL insiders speculate, he could be out six to ten weeks.

Speaker 10: I’m afraid I’ve seen Tony Romo on the field for the last time. So I hope that’s not true, but I’m afraid it might be true. His age, his family, he’s got kids now. Maybe it’s time. Nobody wants to ever come to grips with that. Certainly he doesn’t. But us as fans kind of think maybe it is his last time being on the field, unfortunately.

Alison Harris: But Romo’s injury is only a fracture, and does not involve nerve fractures of the spine. He will be back on the field. The question is when.

Doctor Michels: It’s a violent game. It’s a physical game. Tony has had just some strings of bad luck where he was hit just perfectly. So I wouldn’t suspect that this is anything career ending as long as it is just a simple fracture of that vertebral body. And I think Tony should be back to help lead this team to some victories.

Alison Harris: Alison Harris, Fox 4 News.

Hannah reporter: Alright, so let’s talk about it everybody. We want to know what you think about Tony Romo’s injury. And also, looking forward, how the Cowboys will do with Dak Prescott as quarterback. Again, it’s not known when Romo could be back, but we want to hear from you about the potential new quarterback situation. Go to the Good Day Facebook page or tweet us using the #jumpin to share your thoughts.


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