He doesn’t tweet much, but former Eastern Washington star Dario Romero’s profile picture tells a story worth each of the platform’s 280 allotted characters.
The former All-American and ex-Miami Dolphins defensive lineman is photographed taking down New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in 2004, one of Romero’s 3 1/2 sacks that season.
Romero, a Lewis and Clark High School graduate and Spokane resident, is eight years removed from his last snap, a career that was mostly spent in the Canadian Football League.
The 41-year-old health teacher now spins the occasional gridiron yarn to help cultivate relationships with students.
“I love working with the youth,” said Romero, who works at Innovation High School, a Spokane charter school. “Talking about football quickly opens the door for the opportunity to have a conversation with a student.”
He’ll have even more to share with the class on Monday.
Romero will be formally inducted into the EWU Athletics Hall of Fame at 8 a.m. Saturday at the school’s Pence Union Building, a breakfast and ceremony preceding the the No. 21 Eagles’ 2:05 p.m. Big Sky Conference opener against North Dakota.
Romero, a four-year starter at EWU from 1997-2000, totaled 172 tackles and 22 sacks, earning All-Big Sky and All-American distinction twice.
After playing his first year of professional football with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Romero carved out a spot on Dolphins (2002-2004), appearing in 22 regular-season games.
He spent his next six seasons north of the border with the Eskimos, Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders, where he was a CFL West All-Star in 2008 and 2009.
“I found my niche in Canada and really enjoyed it,” Romero said. “People played for the love of the game and not for big money. The NFL was a way different experience.”
But the NFL is also where he felt legitimized as a player after taking the small college and CFL route before cracking the Dolphins’ 53-man roster.
In Miami, Romero teamed up with his childhood football hero, the late and legendary Junior Seau, then a veteran linebacker freshly traded from the San Diego Chargers.
“I had his jersey as a kid,” Romero said. “A story I like to tell back in 2004 during a Sunday Night Football game against the Bengals, Seau orchestrated a stunt that opened me up for a sack. When I knew I earned his respect, that meant a lot to me.”
When Romero’s football career ended, he tried his hand at different career ventures, including a stint as a corrections officer at a local prison, the Airway Heights Correction Center.
Romero was later employed at Excelsior, where he worked with at-risk youth. After earning his teaching certificate, Romero, who earned his physical education degree in 2000, was hired at Innovation High School, a partner of Pride Prep schools.
“When you’re growing up here, you can’t wait to leave,” Romero said. “But when you grow up, you realize how special the Spokane area is. It’s a great place to raise a family.”
Romero is married with five children. His oldest son, Dario Romero Jr., is a junior tight end and defensive tackle at Ferris.
He hasn’t spent many Saturdays at Roos Field in recent years because he’s too busy coaching his sons’ youth football teams. He’s also a trainer at Pro Vision Football Academy.
He’s still kept a watchful eye on the Football Championship Subdivision power and has enjoyed seeing its growth and success.
“Going out there now and the growth of the stadium and program, it’s crazy,” said Romero, who advanced to the 1997 Division I-AA (now FCS) semifinals as a starting freshman. “There’s signage everywhere, EWU gear, a lot more fans. It wasn’t that way when I played there.”
Last year, Romero’s college teammate, former EWU receiver and ex-NFL talent Jeff Ogden, was inducted into the EWU Athletics Hall of Fame.
When Romero got the call earlier this year, he said he was taken aback.
“I was caught off guard and blown away,” Romero said. “After hearing (I was inducted), it was an awesome feeling. I’m super excited, and my kids think it’s really cool.”
Other inductees into this year’s EWU Athletics Hall of Fame class include former track and field standout Lisa Sorrell, ex-volleyball star and Gonzaga Prep product Keva Sonderen and the 1980 men’s track and field team, which finished fourth at the NCAA Division II Championships before EWU made the move to Division I in 1983.
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