After a brief stint with “Monday Night Football,” Jason Witten returned to the Dallas Cowboys this fall with the mindset that he was going to help lead his former team to a championship.
That hasn’t quite worked out.
The Cowboys, sitting at 7-8 heading into their final game of the season on Sunday, lost control of the NFC East last week after falling to the Philadelphia Eagles. Their playoff hopes, once seemingly a sure thing, have almost totally slipped away.
Witten signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys this offseason, and knows that his time in the league could be done after their game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
The 37-year-old, though, is just not ready to think about his football future just yet.
“I'm aware of that, but really, one of the things when I came back to play I was committed to going out there and playing every game and opportunity,” Witten said, via ESPN. “So fortunate to do it. There will be time to make that decision, but I do not envision this being my last game.”
Witten has recorded 505 yards and four touchdowns on 59 receptions for Dallas this season, his 16th in the league. Though his numbers are some of the lowest he’s put up since his inaugural season in 2003, Witten is still the franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards, games played and games started.
He’s just two touchdowns shy of breaking Dez Bryant’s touchdown receptions record, too.
“Witt's a very, very special guy,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “One of the great players ever to play in this league. One of the great players ever to play for this franchise. Has everything to do with the approach that he takes, the kind of guy he is. His mentality as a player. The consistency of his performance over 16 years, it's unbelievable. Ranks up there with anybody who's ever played in this league.
“He's just a rare guy. He's an incredible example to everybody who's around him every day, about how to approach it, how to be a pro and how to perform at a high level. He's come back this year and done a really nice job for us.”
Witten wants to coach
Though he isn’t ready to address his future just yet, Witten doesn’t sound like he wants to head back to the broadcast booth after his playing days are over.
He wants to get into coaching — and thinks his decades spent around the game would translate well.
“I’ve spent my entire adulthood in pro football,” Witten said, via USA Today. “Coaching is coaching. You want to be in a competitive level … For me, I think this is a level you can have a lot of success in just because you’re so familiar with it. Really your whole life.”
While Witten declined to say whether he had any desire to coach the Cowboys in the future, that job is likely to become available in the coming weeks.
Garrett, whose contract expires at the end of the season, is sitting on perhaps the hottest seat in the NFL. He hasn’t led the Cowboys to a conference championship during his decade with the team, and has only won two playoff games. And after a rough season with championship aspirations at the start, Dallas owner Jerry Jones sounds like he’s finally ready to make a change.
Though Witten didn’t say he wanted the job should it be available, and likely wouldn’t be an immediate candidate to replace Garrett, he’s fully aware of how appealing that job is.
“You’re talking about the Dallas Cowboys,” Witten said. “It’s a great job. This franchise, put it up against any franchise in all of sports.
“Head coach is the leader. He’s the guy that sets the tone for the whole organization as far as the structure of the football side of things. Not a better job out there than this job.”
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