After a year away from the sport and a season spent as an analyst for Monday Night Football, Dallas Cowboys future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten officially announced his return to the gridiron on Feb.28 for his 16th season.
Witten initially retired from the league last offseason on May 3rd, 2018. He held an emotional press conference with his head coach, front office officials and longtime friends and teammates in attendance.
Less than a year into his hiatus from the playing field, Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett and the Jones family were able to pry him away from the broadcast booth and out of retirement. At 37 years old some question Witten’s ability to make meaningful contributions and make a difference on a budding Cowboys team that he saw return to the playoffs in 2018 and believes is primed to make a run at a championship.
“The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong. This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship,” said Witten.
His impact on the team may not manifest itself into a Pro Bowl bid or 1,000-yard season, but the leadership that he will provide and the stability, as well as consistent play that he will provide at the tight end position for the team’s offense, is invaluable.
Over the course of his career, Witten was always the security blanket and chain mover for that his quarterbacks could lean on and go to in crunch time as he is widely renown and respected for his reliable hands and toughness.
He never really seemed comfortable and content in his role in the booth last season. He faced some criticism and was under scrutiny for his performance on the program. He was often unfairly compared to his former quarterback turned analyst in Tony Romo, who is now a star on Sundays for CBS for imparting his vast knowledge of the game on fans and spectators.
He cited his love for the game and longing for the grind that comes in an NFL offseason, regular season and postseason for the reason for wanting to return to the field and lace up his cleats this year in an official statement.
“Look, every day I was a part of the Cowboys, and even before that, I loved the game of football. I loved the process of it. I loved March. I loved training camp. I loved getting better and adversity and going through it with (the) guys that shared commitment part of it. Nothing can replace that feeling and I knew that,” said Witten.
The 11-time Pro Bowl tight end already has a resume that is Hall of Fame worthy, he has made plenty of money and has enjoyed much success on and off the field. However, the one accolade that has eluded him and probably prompted him to return more than anything else and more than he would likely admit to, and that’s the title of Superbowl champion and the hardware that comes with it.
All players aspire to become and be remembered as the best to ever play the game at their position or on the league period, but the goal that supersedes all and that every player, coach, scout and front office executive work so hard for is the opportunity to contend and play for the Vince Lombardi trophy.
“This was completely my decision and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt,” said Witten.