Stop and Smell ...Jason Witten?

Watching the Cowboys growing up in the 70's, I took their success for granted. I was a teenager, and it seemed the Boys were destined to be in the playoffs every year. As I got older, I started to appreciate more that "my" team might not always be a winner (imagine!). As Roger Staubach's retirement approached, it was a sad time for me, and at that point I realized I'd been watching something special all those years.

During the 90's run, I made sure I soaked it all in, knowing that a run like the 1965-1985 one was not going to repeated, and that I had a small window of enjoyment. The salary cap, of course, closed that window even sooner.

So, what about now? The 13-3 season, the emergence of Tony Romo as an entertaining, if not yet great, QB, certainly has been better than those 5-11 years! But is there anything really special about this team that I'll look back on 15 years from now and go, "Wow, that was great!" Well, maybe next year Romo will mature and this team will provide some of those memories, beyond just a few spectacular plays.

As my title suggests, there is one player I think fans are not appeciating enough, and that is Jason Witten. When all is said and done, this is a player that may well be ranked in the top 5 all-time at his position. It is only because of Tony Gonzales' ability to continue to produce that the media has not quite caught on to how good this TE is. Of course, his team winning a playoff game (or SB!) wouldn't hurt either. And while I know knowledgeable fans on sites like this understand that Witten is not good but great, and integral to this offense's success, I'm not sure even they realize just how good a career he's having.

So, here are the stats of the inducted Hall of Fame TE's (yardage rounded off, and years played possibly not exact-I have a life):

Jackie Smith: 480 rec., 7,900 yards, 40 TD's, 5 Pro Bowls in 15 years

Mike Ditka: 427 rec., 5,800 yds., 43 TD's, 5 PB's in 11 years.

Dave Casper: 378 rec., 5,200 yds., 52 TD's, 5 PB's in 10 years

Ozzie Newsome (Roll Tide!): 662 rec., 8000 yds., 47 TD's, 3 PB's in 12 years

Charlie Sanders: 336 rec., 4,800 yds., 31 TD's, 7 PB's in 19 years

Kellen Winslow (expected more than this): 541 rec., 6,700 yds., 45 TD's, 5 PB's in 8 years.

John Mackey: 331 rec., 5,200 yds., 38 TD's, 5 PB's in 8 years

And, drum roll please, Jason Witten: 429 receptions, 4,900 yards, 25 TD's, and 5 Pro Bowls in just 6 years.

{Update: Last year's season increases his totals to: 1,152 rec., 12,448 yds., 68 TD's, and an 11th Pro Bowl. I also think it's worthy to note that he's been All-Pro 2x also, where he's recognized as the best in the game.}

So, while there is no guarentee Witten will enter the Hall, the fact is that (until DWare puts a few more years under his belt) he is the ONE player we are watching now who truly is one of the best ever at his position. His stats already are approaching those of the Hall players after just 6 seasons.

Some Devil's Advocate criticism--1) Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez have some monster stats-although if Witten continues to perform for a 10- or 12-years career he could well be in their territory.

2) To actually get in the Hall, he'll face a problem because Sharpe and Gonzalez would have to basically get in first-and there may be a feeling of burnout on Tight Ends. {2011: Good News, Sharpe is in! Earlier is better for Witten.}

3) Today's NFL is more pass-happy and earlier TE's were not thrown to as much. They were more blockers than receivers. I get that. However, I don't think anyone will be challenging Witten's toughness.

But I still am taking time out every game to enjoy as Witten makes crucial, chain-moving, game-sealing catches week after week. And you should too.

Bonus-I couldn't resist looking up Jay Novacek's stats, and look how he

"Cek's" out compared to the guys in the Hall! 422 receptions, 4,600 yards, 30 TD's, AND 5 Pro Bowls over 11 years. Wow.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.