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Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten Is An Ironman

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On Sunday, Jason Witten will make his 203rd start for the Cowboys, tying Ed “Too Tall” Jones for the most in Cowboys history. It’s just one of his long list of impressive accomplishments.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Given how incredibly steady Jason Witten has been for the Dallas Cowboys, one could write this article at any time, but there is a special milestone this week. Jason Witten is going to tie Ed “Too Tall” Jones for the most starts in Dallas Cowboys history. That’s impressive in itself, but it’s only one of the many accomplishments Jason Witten has racked up in his career.

He was drafted in 2003 in the third round, starting seven of 15 games he played in, and caught 35 balls for 347 yards. By the end of that year, he was established as the main tight end for the Dallas Cowboys. With the exception of one game his rookie season, he has not missed a game in 14 seasons. He missed one start in 2006 when Bill Parcells started the game with four wide receivers and no tight end.

During that time period, here are some of Witten’s Ironman accomplishments.

  • 203 starts as of Sunday - tying the franchise record.
  • 209th consecutive game, which is already the team record.
  • As of the Philadelphia game next week, he will have 154 consecutive starts, tying Lee Roy Jordan for the franchise record.
  • He’s already played in more consecutive games than any tight end in NFL history.

He also doesn’t just start or play in essentially every game. He typically plays about 99% of the offensive plays every season. I don’t have the stats going back to 2003, but this is what Witten has done in recent years.

  • Played every offensive down in 2016 - 347 over five games.
  • Played 1,020 snaps in 2015, somehow missing nine plays.
  • Played 1049 of 1,060 snaps in 2014.
  • Played 985 of 998 snaps in 2013.
  • Played 1,079 of 1,100 snaps in 2012.

These don’t count special teams plays, where he is used as a blocker on field goals and extra points.

Why is he in all these games? Because he’s a pretty good player, to say the least. He’s not the best tight end of all time, but Sports Illustrated rated him the 8th-best all time last year.

Here are some of his receiving numbers:

  • All time leading Cowboys receiver in number of catches with 1,044.
  • Second all-time in receiving yards for a Cowboys receiver (behind Michael Irvin) with 11,447 yards.
  • He’s second on the team in catches this year with 24 for 232 yards.
  • 10th all time in catches in the NFL. Only one tight end - Tony Gonzalez - is ahead of him.
  • 10 Pro Bowls in 14 seasons.

And what about some of his iconic plays? This one is probably tops for many.

And this one from last week! I can’t stop laughing when I watch it!

I’m sure you have more you can post in the comments.

We also know that he had a broken jaw his first season in the NFL. It caused him to miss the only game of his career.

The only game that he has missed was Oct. 12, 2003, Week 5 of his rookie season. He suffered a broken jaw the previous week against the Arizona Cardinals but was back on the field Oct. 19 despite losing so many pounds that he snuck rolls of coins into his sweatpants in order to make sure he made weight. His coach, Bill Parcells, tried to convince him to eat baby food to keep his weight up. It didn't take.

He also lacerated his spleen in pre-season in 2012. It didn’t cause him to miss any time. Guess who hit him? Oakland linebacker Rolando McClain!

This is also one of my favorite stories about Witten. When DeMarco Murray was asked how he was able to handle the incredible workload the Cowboys put on him in 2014, he attributed his success to spending the offseason training with Jason Witten!

So, hats off to Jason Witten, a future first-ballot Hall of Fame player who Tony Romo once called perhaps the best Cowboy of all time.