Romero's fortunes keep rising

Montreal Alouettes' Dario Romero's stock has risen each year since he left the Eskimos after the...

Montreal Alouettes' Dario Romero's stock has risen each year since he left the Eskimos after the 2001 season. (Special to Edmonton Sun/Ryan Jackson)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

It has been five years since Dario Romero left the Green and Gold - but to this day, the burly lineman is incredibly thankful to the Edmonton Eskimo organization.

In fact, the Montreal Alouettes' starting defensive tackle believes the Eskimos played the most pivotal role in him earning nearly $1 million US since he left this city in 2001.

"You could say I owe it all to them because (playing with the Eskimos) is how I got my foot in the door (of professional football)," said Romero yesterday afternoon.

"It's a great story."

And that might be an understatement.

Literally sitting in his hometown of Spokane in the spring of 2001, lining up a job with UPS, Romero got a call out of the blue from Edmonton Eskimo talent bird-dog Paul Jones with a last-minute invitation to training camp.

"It was two weeks before camp," remembered Romero.

"They wanted a local guy, but Don (Matthews) had coached down in the area where I am from and said there is a guy down there that is sitting around - let's bring him up here."

So, Matthews got his wish before being shown the door out of Edmonton that spring - and Romero eventually parlayed that last-minute training camp invitation into an incredibly lucrative three-year stint in the NFL.

SIGNED WITH DOLPHINS

After just one year with the Esks, he signed an entry-level $225,000 US deal with the Miami Dolphins - a far cry from his previous $32,000 salary in Edmonton.

He didn't play a down during that 2002 season in the NFL, but was paid full freight. The following year, he saw the field and his contract rise to $300,000 US.

And in 2004, he had four sacks and 21 tackles while playing 14 games for the Fish at a salary of almost $400,000 US.

Unfortunately for him, the incredible financial ride came to an end in 2005, when he was released.

"We had a coaching change (in Miami) and they brought in new staff and their own guys," said Romero.

"Dave Wannstedt was the coach and then Nick Saban came in - and I guess (I wasn't his guy)."

ANOTHER CRACK AT IT

But after sitting at home last year, Romero decided he wanted to give the CFL another crack this year - and almost ended up back in Edmonton.

"It was real close," he quietly admitted yesterday.

"It's close to home and I know the Campbells real well.

"It was a toss-up."

However, it came down to money, with Montreal offering more this winter.

Romero won't disclose how much he signed for, but the Alouettes are sure glad he put his name on the dotted line.

"He is a dominant guy in the middle," said Matthews.

At 6-3 and 300 pounds, the 28-year-old import has yet to register a sack in this young season, but has one pass knockdown and seven tackles.

"And we can see him getting better as each week goes by," added Matthews.


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