Since his debut for the Dallas Cowboys in 2003, Jason Witten has been one of the most consistent and productive tight ends of all time. From his days as a linebacker in high school right up until his retirement from the NFL, Witten was a standout player on and off the field. Now, as he prepares to become an analyst on Monday Night Football, we take a look back at the journey Witten took to become one of the greatest tight ends of all time.
Full Name: Christopher Jason Witten
Birthdate: May 6, 1982
Birth Place: Elizabethton, Tennessee
Height: 6ft 6in
Team: Dallas Cowboys / NFL
Witten was a dual sport athlete in high school, like most NFL players. Along with the football team coached by his grandfather, he played basketball, averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds per game for his team. But where Witten excelled was out on the football field. He became a four-year starter at the linebacker and tight end position and led the team to three state semi-finals. As a senior, selected as the USA Today Player of the Year for Tennessee, the East Tennessee Player of the Year, Region Defensive Player of the Year and runner-up for the Mr. Football, as well as being selected as an All-American and earned all-state honors in his junior and senior seasons. In his senior season alone, he recorded 163 tackles, 9.0 sacks, two interceptions, two blocked kicks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Witten left Elizabethton High School with the school record for career tackles at 450.
Witten attended the University of Tennessee with a scholarship to play football. In his freshman season, Witten primarily played on special teams and as a second-string defensive end. But with multiple injuries to Tennessee’s tight ends, Witten was moved to that position around the midpoint of the season. Witten initially disagreed with the decision but wound up enjoying it, being used primarily as a blocker. His sophomore season was more successful, starting three games and playing in all of them.
Fast-forward to his junior season and Witten had a breakout year. Still playing as a tight end, he put up 493 yards from 39 receptions and scored five touchdowns. His yardage and receptions set single-season records at Tennessee and led the conference that season leading to an All-SEC pick and an Academic All-SEC pick. Witten declared for the draft after his junior season despite having only played 20 games as a tight end. He ended his career at Tennessee as third all-time among the school’s tight ends with 68 career receptions and fourth all-time with 797 receiving yards.
During his 15 year NFL career, Witten has put number teams could only wish for from a third-round pick. Having Tony Romo throw to him for most of his career, Witten is second is second in all-time receiving yards(12,448) and receptions(1,152) by a tight end. He was selected to 11 pro-bowls, two first-team All-Pros and two second-team All-Pros. He also holds the record for most receptions in a season and in a single game by a tight end with 110 and 18, respectively.
In 2012, Witten won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his off-the-field community service and playing excellence. He had been recognized for his leadership in the “NFL Play 60” campaign as well as his efforts against domestic violence with his on charity, the SCORE Foundation.
On May 3, 2018, Witten officially announced his retirement from the NFL. He will be joining the Monday Night Football broadcast team as an analyst.