José y José: A football conversation
José Romero and José Romero sit down to talk about their love for the NFL, how they fell in love with the game and what the sport means to the Latino community.
Patrick Breen, Arizona Republic
The name — my name — might be sort of common throughout Latin America, even Spain. But there is nothing common about two guys with the same first and last name, José Romero, being involved in telling the story of the Arizona Cardinals.
In 2022, that’s where we are. One José Romero is the Cardinals first-year Spanish language broadcast analyst. The other José Romero is me, an Arizona Republic sports reporter assigned to cover the team.
We’re both new to our positions, but neither of us are new to American football despite very different backgrounds.
José was born in Cancún, Mexico, and moved to the U.S. as a teenager to continue a football experience that took him from Phoenix-area high school ball to playing in community college to walking on at Arizona and playing in the Pac-12.
Now he teaches Spanish and coaches at Phoenix Desert Vista. On Sundays he is on the radio alongside play-by-play announcer Luis Hernandez.
I’m Chicano, Mexican American to some, born in Oregon to parents from Southern California. Tony Dorsett and Jim Plunkett, then the late Junior Seau, were my favorite NFL players. Part of my first three years working for the Seattle Times was spent covering high school football. I freelanced games for almost a decade and I’m on my second NFL team as a beat writer, after seven seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks earlier this millennium.
I met José at this year’s Cardinals training camp. He replaced the person who eventually helped land him the broadcasting gig, Rolando Cantú, a former Cardinals player and native of Mexico.
Cantú joined Telemundo Deportes as the new lead NFL analyst for its Sunday Night Football broadcasts. Cantú called more than 300 Cardinals games on radio and at least 65 Thursday Night Football games, plus four Super Bowls.
The torch has been passed.
“First game was rough, kind of getting used to the timing between me and Luis and when does he talk and when he stops and when do I start, when do I have to stop before he comes back in,” Romero said after calling the Kansas City game earlier this month.
“Second week felt better, third week felt even better and I think this first game, even though I was more nervous because it’s the real deal, first regular season game, I think it was better than the last (preseason) game in Tennessee for sure.”
Romero said his broadcasting career happened by accident, with Cantú in his corner and the Cardinals choosing him for the job. His plan had been to go into coaching, starting in high school with hopes of moving up the ranks in the game. He didn’t think he was going to enjoy being on the air as much as he does.
“He’s a good guy who has the desire to develop. He’s always learning something new,” said Hernandez in Spanish, via text message, when asked about Romero. “He’s always ready to listen to critiques so he can get better at his job. I’m really glad he is working with me on Arizona Cardinals Spanish radio.”
José and I, we’re just two guys, proud of our Mexican heritage, sitting less than 100 feet apart in the State Farm Stadium press box on Sundays watching a great sport, with the same first and last name on our media credentials.
We’re both very much looking forward to the Cardinals’ November game in Mexico City, José in no small part because he looks forward to seeing family, and me, because it’s a place of great historical significance that I’ve always wanted to visit, as someone with roots in the country.
As football fans and observers, we’re eager to continue telling the story of Los Cardenales and the NFL continuing efforts to cultivate and embrace the passion of Latino football fans, all season long.
Get in touch with Jose Romero at Jose.Romero@gannett.com. Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.