Cowboys tight end Jason Witten wasn’t necessarily talking about being at the end of the line.
But he’s also wise enough to know he might have just lost his last best shot at a Super Bowl ring.
When a reporter mentioned to the 34-year-old tight end last night that he had never been to the conference title game, Witten turned philosophical for a moment.
“Yeah, I’m well aware of that,” Witten said, via Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. “Obviously that’s something I realize, regardless of how many catches you have or any of that stuff, your legacy will be remembered as how you play in these certain situations in the playoffs, and that’s tough. It’s tough for me to swallow that. It’s not about any one individual. I’m proud of this team. I really have my whole career I’ve tried to work really hard to not make it about me, and that’s why there’s emotion that goes along with this.
“I’m in my 14th year, and you know there’s a shelf life for everybody. You put everything you have into it, and when you come up short it’s tough. It’s not about a paycheck. It’s about an opportunity to compete and lead and win and play in these types of games. This team had a special feel all the way through, and to come up short like that for me is hard.”
Witten has one more year on his contract, and 14 glorious years behind him, so he’s clearly getting closer to the end than the beginning. But he’s also still contributing at a high level, with six catches for 59 yards in yesterday’s loss to the Packers, including his first playoff touchdown.
So there’s no reason to think he’s ready to walk away.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said. “Every year when I’m empty at this point, it’s just you gave everything you got, and I’ll take time to reflect on it. I love this team and this group of guys and so, yeah, that will be the plan for sure.”
But with changes coming to Dallas this offseason — likely including his longtime friend Tony Romo — things will doubtless be different for them next year. And that’s hard to swallow for one of the organization’s true constants.