Jason Witten heard the criticisms of the Monday Night Football broadcasts last season. Unlike many players who try to say they don’t read or listen to what is being said about them, Witten said clearly that he absolutely heard the feedback of the ESPN broadcasts as he paired with Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland.
“Nobody’s immune to it, regardless of how much mental toughness you have,” Witten said on Dual Threat with Ryen Russillo. “That was one of the things I kind of prided myself on as a player for 15 years. I could handle the big stage. … Certainly, I took a beating. I’m aware of it. To say like, ‘Hey, you didn’t pay attention to it.’ Bullsh–. Everybody’s aware and if you’re not, you’re lying to me to say you’re just immune to it. Probably everybody outside of Bill Belichick and a handful of others that just don’t really care what’s being said.”
Witten elected to come out of retirement and return to the Cowboys for a 16th season this spring. He reaffirmed that his decision to return to football had nothing to do with the criticism levied against their broadcast crew. Instead, he just really wanted to play football again. However, that doesn’t make the criticism sting any less in retrospect, especially when he believed the grouping had made significant strides throughout the season.
“The toughest part was you finish calling a game and whether you’re flying back that night or going back to the hotel I would check my texts and it was like they found out I was sick or something or somebody died in my family,” Witten said. “‘Hey, praying for you. Keep your head up. Don’t worry about it.’ I’m like my gosh it wasn’t that bad, you know. … I wasn’t immune to it. It sucked going through it at times. Once the narrative kind of got formed, I knew that it was going to be a long-game approach.
“And I thought as the season unfolded when Boog moved up to the booth I thought we had two or three really good games and we were starting to kind of hit our stride. I didn’t make this decision off of the noise and the criticism. That wasn’t why I made this decision it was really just I want to play. The scoreboard matters and I want to be a part of that.”