Jason Witten’s opportunity to join ESPN changed his decision on playing 16th season


Jason Witten was adamant after the final regular-season game in Philadelphia last season that he was returning to the Cowboys for a 16th season. The tight end repeated his vow to return during Super Bowl week, declaring he could continue playing at a Pro Bowl level.

As recently as April 17, Witten said he had no interest in a TV job and wanted to play until he was 40. He joked with a reporter the Tuesday before the draft, asking why the reporter was “trying to put me out to pasture.”

After spending more than a week at the team’s voluntary offseason workouts, Witten announced his retirement Thursday in an emotional press conference.

“I think with opportunities that changes it,” Witten said when asked what changed his mind. “Look, I always knew where I was at in my career. I mean, I knew the demands and what I had to do every day, day in and day out and I was committed to doing that. I did not think that was going to be my last game in Philadelphia there. But I think when you go through that process, and I was certain when I went through it, I wanted the blessing of Jerry and his family. The opportunity that I have to stay around the game. No man really leaves on his terms and it was just an opportunity. When you’re in those moments, those other things didn’t really exist. I think that had a lot to do with it.”

Witten never mentioned his new job at ESPN in his hour-long press conference, but ESPN released a statement that Witten will join Monday Night Football next season.

“We want to congratulate Jason Witten on a Hall-of-Fame caliber career with the Dallas Cowboys and we are thrilled to welcome him to ESPN and Monday Night Football,” Connor Schell, ESPN executive vice president of content said in a statement. “Jason’s passion, his insight, and his ability to clearly communicate his knowledge of the game thoroughly impressed us. He has all the potential to be an exceptional analyst and we can’t wait to get started.”

Still, it was a hard decision for Witten after the offer presumably came last week.

“I don’t know that anybody knows when it’s their time to go. I certainly did not,” Witten said. “It was emotional. I never thought about that day. Certainly didn’t think about it as I was preparing for my 16th season. But I just through a lot of counsel, right here with the guy to the left of me and the guy to the right of me and my family. Certainly, it was a difficult time.

“I shared with Jerry [Jones] the other day, I got to the edge of the cliff in the last 72 hours and really longer than that and really couldn’t jump. I’m excited. I’m really excited. I think more than anything else I know the standard and expectation of the way I wanted to play and how I do play, but I’m also excited for the next chapter of my life and the opportunities that I have.”

28 responses to “Jason Witten’s opportunity to join ESPN changed his decision on playing 16th season

  1. Witten knew that with Romo and Dez now gone, the Cowpokes would turn to cow-poop lol
    Yeah, “Zeke” can run, but who gon’ catch? lol

  2. If you can’t appreciate and respect Witten’s game then I question your football IQ.

  3. He couldn’t pass up an opportunity to cover the Jets at Lions in Week 1.

  4. What a great athlete and what a gent.
    A person like Jason is unbelievably rare during these days of divas.
    His charity work is amazing, as well.
    I hope his critics can see the example by which he leads, and better their own lives, and that of others.

  5. You can tell who the trolls are when they post something negative about Jason Witten.

  6. As an Eagles fan, Witten was one of those guys you really couldn’t hate for anything other than what laundry he was wearing. Wish we would have drafted him instead of LJ Smith…..

  7. higheriqthanyou says:

    Another overrated Cowboy

    this “overrated Cowboy” will be a 1st ballot Hall of Famer, just look at his stats you bafoon and then you may change your mind if you have any intelligence.

  8. Much respect for Jason Witten, great career. I hope he’s good in the booth and expect that he will be. I won’t miss playing against him in fantasy-it never failed that he’d have a 10 reception, 110 yard performance with 2 TDs to put a dagger in my week’s hopes. #Respect

  9. Funny fans from other teams talk about 2 playoff wins in 15 years. We all play for a ring a championship a super bowl PERIOD! So UnLess Your team has won a super either recent or 20 years ago then You are just as much losers as we are. You either win the ring or your a loser as well! Fact. And yes even the cheaters Super Bowls are History. Fact.

  10. Eagles fan here. Never rooted for Witten, but totaally respected his talent. He seems like a class act both off an on the field.

  11. The guy was at the end but still likely had another two years left on the field. This MNF chance, had he passed up on it, might have not been around again for another 10+ years. He didnt play for my team so I really dont care one way or the other what he did, but I do think he made the right move (assuming that he still has the desire to work even with all the money he likely has in the bank).

  12. The realist in me says witten was a hard nosed, hard working professional. The fan in me says hes retiring because he knows dallas has no shot to surpass philly and would only continue to be the eagles punching bag.

  13. The consumate professional. He and Romo worked a lot of magic over the years .Wasn’t gonna happen with the current QB. Good decision

  14. Sorry to say but if the press pic in this article is current, dude is a currently pork sausage. He’s put on a ton of offseason weight. To the booth!

  15. He made the Cowboys a better franchise and is someone who played the game in a way that many of us fans respected. No drama, no controversy, no cutting the corners. Just a class act who will be missed on the field. Congratulations on the next leg of your journey .

  16. I met Jason Witten at the team hotel one year, then the Marriot next to the DFW airport. It was on a package deal I used to take on Cowboys Touchdown Travel–hey, a short flight, stay at the team hotel, shuttle from and to the airport, bus to and from Texas Stadium, breakfast, souvenirs, and the opportunity to meet the players. I did not expect Jason Witten to be at the autograph table, but he was. So I asked him to sign a copy of Landry’s Boys.

    I met him again the next year at the same hotel on the same package deal. There he was at the autograph table. I asked him if he remembered me, and he shook his head, no. I was just another fan on a travel package to him. I reminded him that he had signed a book for me the year before, and he shook his head, yes. Then I told him that that book was for a young friend of mine, a cancer survivor. This boy had undergone brain surgery and survived; he was a huge Cowboys fan, and Jason Witten was his favorite player. When I told him the real story, that getting his autograph on that book meant the whole world to this boy, Jason Witten stood up, shook my hand, and said, “Thank you.”

    I don’t pretend to think that I had any influence on Witten’s charitable contributions, but I can tell you for a fact that my story had a profound affect on him–I saw it in his face when he shook my hand.

    Jason Witten was a true Cowboy. He gave his all on the field, played the game the way it should be played, and he gave to the community. I don’t know whether my young friend getting his autograph or him finding out about it meant more to one or the other. I do know what it meant to both.

    Jason Witten was all class, a football player’s football player, and a tribute to the team he played for. Oh, he’s going into the Ring of Honor and the Hall of Fame for sure. There have been few like him before, and there will be fewer after.

  17. How many Super Bowls?

    What percentage of NFL players make it to the Super Bowl.

  18. It was a very smart move. TV pays Millions and openings only show up every 10 to 15 years. He doesn’t even have to leave the world of the NFL…how great is that! Strike While The Iron Is Hot. In 10 years he would have been an unknown Walmart Greeter not a Millionaire TV Celebrity. Good move Witten. Good Move.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.