Cowboys Jason Witten: Let's Appreciate Excellence While It's Happening

USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys fans, and NFL fans in general, have been treated to an example of excellence at the tight end position over the last decade.

So I'm reading an article over at the mothership about Jason Witten, and it made me think of how Jason Witten is basically a perfect football player. He's the model type you'd order if you could call 1-800-Tight-End. It's not like this is news, there's nothing I'm writing here that we don't already know. Instead, this is just a Cowboys fan marveling at the career Witten is putting together.

The article I read discusses what individual achievements Jason Witten is most proud of from the 2012 season. The answer should have been obvious.

Witten passed Michael Irvin in career receptions midway through the year and went on to catch 110 passes, setting the NFL record for receptions by a tight end in a single season by topping Tony Gonzalez’s record of 102 catches.

Hey, those are two pretty freakin' great records to put up on his trophy shelf. But Witten didn't pick those. Instead he went with:

One of Witten’s prouder moments of the year was being able to suit up for the opener against the Giants when most people thought it would be impossible, just a few weeks after the tight end lacerated his spleen in the preseason opener. He defied the odds by playing, though he’ll admit he didn’t look his usual self in that game, catching two passes for 10 yards. He still didn’t look himself the next couple weeks, either, catching just six passes on 18 combined targets in Week 2 and Week 3.

"It was a tough stretch, that’s for sure," Witten said. "Coming off the injury, then obviously had some big drops in the early games, but I think everything that you preach to the young players you have to actually live yourself and stay the course. Coach (Jason) Garrett talks about the process all the time. That’s what really mental toughness is all about."

Of course, Witten went on to another stellar year. It could be argued that Witten is being overly-humble here, just not wanting to sound like a braggart by touting his individual records. Maybe that's the case, maybe it's a little calculated. But so what. It just falls into a pattern for Witten of always doing things the right way.

Medical Marvel

Remember last season when Witten lacerated his spleen and we thought there was no way he would be back for the Giants opening game. Pfft. Witten played. In fact, he's played in all but one game in his career. 159 out of 160. That's simply amazing. Witten last missed a game on Oct. 12, 2003, his rookie season, because of a broken jaw. He played the next week. Seriously, this guy has played through all types of injuries. And it's not like he doesn't put his body on the line. Just think back to him running through the Philly defense with no helmet on.

Record Production

Witten is already the Cowboys all-time leading receiver based on catches. He now holds the record for most catches by a tight end in a season. Besides his rookie year, he's never been below 750 yards receiving for a season. That's amazing consistency. Witten was the fastest to 700 catches by any tight end in NFL history, edging out Tony Gonzalez by nine games. His list of on field achievements goes on and on. Oh yeah, Witten's not a one-dimensional tight end either, he's an above-average blocker along the line.

Character

Has Jason Witten ever been anything but a model citizen? He never complains, never makes excuses, never provides bulletin-board material. He never embarrasses the organization. He actually does the opposite, he makes the organization proud. Earlier this offseason he won the Walter Payton Man Of The Year award. He also won the Bart Starr Athletes In Action award. He's also involved in numerous charities. The dude's practically a saint.

What more could you want in a tight end? Maybe a few more touchdown catches? Ok, so he's not prefect, but pretty darn close.

Like I said, there's nothing new here, but just a reflection of the great career that is unfolding before us.

And Dallas got him in the third round! [Insert evil-sounding, gloating laugh here].

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