Tight end Jason Witten recently unretired. Receiver Steve Smith Sr. won’t be doing the same.
“I’m actually good on TV so I’ll just stay here,” Smith said during Saturday’s NFL Combine coverage on NFL Network. It was a not-so-subtle shot at the widespread criticism Witten received during his time as an analyst on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
Amid speculation he was shoved, Witten walked away from broadcasting this week to return to football. It will be interesting to see whether he gives broadcasting another try in the future, on a lower-profile platform like the third- or fourth-string teams for CBS or FOX. Not many would thrive under the spotlight that comes from the biggest broadcasting assignments in football, which makes it very hard to shut out relentless social-media heckling and to say the right things at the right times when millions are watching and waiting to pounce on the next misstatement or faux pas.
In fairness to Witten, Smith has yet to find himself under the kind of TV microscope that Witten endured. While Smith could indeed thrive if asked to handle a nationally-televised prime-time game, it’s impossible to know what anyone would do in that spot until they have to do it.