Astrophysicist Joe Romig, who was a research scientist for Martin Marietta Aerospace, Denver Division, was a consensus All-American in both 1960 and 1961 as a two-way guard. But it was as a far-ranging linebacker that he made his niche on the gridiron.
One of the smallest lineman (5-10, 196 pounds) to be selected as an All-American in modern football, Romig was the leader of Colorado’s 1961 team which was undefeated in Big Eight Conference play and captured the school’s only football title in twenty-five seasons of league membership. That team played and lost to Louisiana State in the 1962 Orange Bowl. In his last two seasons, he was named to the all-opponent team of every school Colorado faced.
Romig was an All-State fullback at Lakewood High School and was the league’s heavyweight wrestling champion. He was also a straight A student in high school and had a 3.87 grade point average at Colorado University.
Quiet and unassuming, Romig was amazingly tough. He played with broken bones by concealing from trainers and doctors the fact that he was injured.
Upon graduation, he was one of two students from this region to be named Rhodes Scholars. Romig accepted the scholarship for graduate studies at Oxford University in England, where he obtained his Master’s degree in physics. He continued his graduate work and received his PhD. from the University of Colorado.
Romig received one of his greatest athletic recognitions when he was named as a guard on the All-Time, All-Big-Eight conference football team for the post-1920 era. 1959 saw his selection as All-Big-Eight by AP, UPI, Academic Team, and “most valuable player” by his teammates.
Romig was named to the first team of nine All-American teams in 1960, and again, to the AP and UPI All-Big-Eight teams, and the academic team. Again, he was voted “most valuable player” by his CU teammates.
In 1961, he was chosen captain of the team, and was selected for eleven All-American teams, including those of the American Coaches Association, American Football Writers Association, NEA, UPI, The Sporting News, Fox Movietone News, New York Daily News, Williamson Football Rating System, ABC Television, Coach and Athlete Magazine and COSIDA All-Academic.
He was also named UPI “Lineman of the Year,” together with similar honors from other sports organizations, and he finished sixth in voting for the coveted Heisman Trophy. He was invited to play in the Hula Bowl and received the Earl “Red” Blaik Scholarship to assist in post-graduate work. He again made every All-Big-Eight team for the third straight year.
The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame recognized Romig’s many achievements by inducting him in 1973.
He played with broken bones by concealing from trainers and doctors the fact that he was injured.