Growing up in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, there’s a few names in the sports world that stand a bit taller than the rest. Names that encapsulate hard work, define determination, and represent what true Texas grit actually means. Names like Dirk, Modano, and Pudge. Aikman, Irving, and Witten. All standouts in their respective sport. All men of character, and class.
But there was something different about number 82. Something that has stood out from the very beginning. His passion for the game, unwavering work ethic and dependability are only a couple of the countless reasons he will go down as one of the greatest Tight Ends to play in the NFL.
Growing up as the youngest of three, Jason was raised with a certain standard of toughness and could be found outside playing catch with his two older brothers on many occasions. After some family issues during his childhood, Witten moved to live with his grandparents where his grandfather coached high school football in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Witten was a standout player in high school, playing under his grandfather Dave Rider who demanded the best from Jason and his brothers.
Witten became a three-year starter playing both linebacker and tight end, while leading his team to reach the state semifinals three times.
Transitioning from Defensive End to Tight End in college, it wasn’t until his junior year at Tennessee that he made a name for himself. After setting school records for receptions (39) and receiving yards (493), while also accumulating All-SEC honors, Jason declared for the draft.
Taken in the third round by Dallas in 2003, Witten made a statement from the very beginning, showcasing his catching abilities, and willingness to stay in the game even after numerous injuries. The most critical of those injuries would come in his rookie year, when he got hit by Arizona Cardinals LB Ronald Mckinnon. He suffered a broken jaw that required surgery and three plates to be inserted before missing only one game. That would be his only missed game in his 15 year career, despite suffering from MCL sprains, and multiple ankle injuries throughout his tenor in the NFL.
Witten would go on to have an illustrious career with the Dallas Cowboys, holding the following franchise records:
• Most career receptions: 1,152
• Most career receiving yards: 12,448
• Most receptions in a single game: 18 (Oct. 28, 2012)
• Most consecutive games played: 239 (as of Jan. 3, 2017)
• Most (consecutive) seasons with a reception, touchdown, scoring: (2003-2017)
Throughout the years Jason has set the standard for what it means to be a Dallas Cowboy, both on the field, and off. His natural leadership tendencies, and continuous display of class and composure has placed him on a higher tier of NFL alumni.
There will never be another Jason Witten, and Dallas will forever be grateful for what he brought to not only the Dallas Cowboys franchise, but the game of football.