updated 07/29/2009 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/29/2009 AT 6:10 PM ET
Just weeks after Tony Romo broke up with Jessica Simpson, the NFL star has been linked to another woman – Natalie Smith – but Smith’s father tells PEOPLE reports of an intimate relationship between the two are “really very silly.”
“His breakup brought all these rumors and stories and it is not true,” says John Smith, the associate athletic director at Romo’s alma mater, Eastern Illinois University.
Smith admits that Romo and Natalie met up for lunch in Dallas last week, but says his entire family – including his wife and three daughters – have “always been friends” with Romo since he was in college.
“Natalie feels so bad,” adds her father. “Just being friends with Tony has disrupted everyone [from] talking about Tony and football and are instead talking about Tony and all of this.”
The Dallas Cowboys quarterback is set to report to pre-season training camping Wednesday. “What is funny about all of this is that if Tony hadn’t broken up with Jessica, nothing would ever have been written about him having lunch with Natalie,” adds Smith.
Simpson Steps Out
Simpson, meanwhile, has started hitting the town in Los Angeles after keeping a low profile for the first couple of weeks after her split from Romo.
Simpson, 29, joined a large group of friends and family – including her parents Joe and Tina who have been Simpson’s main support system since the split – at Katana’s Red Sun BBQ on July 26 for a birthday celebration. “They were all very friendly,” says an onlooker, who saw the party digging into shrimp and kobe steak skewers on the restaurant patio.
The next day, the singer arrived at West Hollywood’s House of Pascal Mouawad with her mom for a CD single release party for Candy Shop by An-Ya, an artist on her dad’s new music label.
“She was in high spirits, joking, laughing, meeting people,” says a source. “You wouldn’t even know she was upset about a breakup.”
Reporting by ALICIA DENNIS and JENNIFER GARCIA