There are three certainties in life - death, taxes, and that the toast will always fall jelly-side down. Oh yeah, there’s one more - Jason Witten will always be where you expect him to be when you throw the ball. The Cowboys tight end has been such a reliable target over his 15-year career. He’s been a consummate professional, influential teammate, and just an all-around unprecedented figure for this organization throughout his career. In a way, he’s been this generation’s Roger Staubach. Great player, great teammate, and great person in the community. He will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer without question and only three other players (Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez, and Larry Fitzgerald) have caught more passes that Witten.
With Witten calling it quits, it’s a sad time for us fans, but let’s try to focus on the good times. Man, were there a lot of good times. Witten leaves us so many great memories and I have narrowed down a list of my absolute favorites. Here are my top 10 moments of Jason Witten’s career.
10. His first and last catch
In 2003, Jason Witten caught his first pass courtesy of Quincy Carter. Then, 1,151 catches later, he made his final catch of his career, thrown by Dak Prescott in the season finale last year against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jason Witten's first & last catch in the nfl. Between there was 239 Games, 1152 receptions, 12,448 Yards, 68 TD's. Next Stop the Ring of Honor and the Hall of Fame. Happy to have seen him play all his games live at the stadium. He is the greatest. #DallasCowboys #JasonWitten pic.twitter.com/am3PdFuXpB— Todd Hebert (@ToddHebert) April 27, 2018
9. Throws a pass to Terrell Owens
The game itself was one I’d like to forget as the Cowboys suffered a 44-6 blowout loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. It came on the season finale in 2008 and cost the Cowboys a chance to go to the playoffs. But there was one moment in the game that was exciting to watch. After a Tony Romo backwards pass, Witten threw the ball to Terrell Owens for a 42-yard gain.
Among all the accolades Witten has over his career, he leaves the game with a 118.3 passer rating, which quite possibly could the all-time record for any Cowboys player.
8. Intimidation commercial
The promo commercial that professional wrestler Sting did with the Cowboys was hilarious. He was portraying an intimidation coach and was helping the team with some creative face-painting ideas. The highlight of the commercial came at the end when Sting confronted Witten and ask him why he wasn’t being a team player with the face paint. Witten’s response was priceless...and very indicative of the type of person he is.
7. Stiff arm against the Cincinnati Bengals
There is nothing like a blowout victory to get you worked up, but when Witten delivers this stiff arm to this poor unsuspecting defender, the roof came off my house.
6. Romo scramble against the Denver Broncos
This one is actually a Romo highlight, but it’s still fitting that Witten is the guy to come down with the catch. This play would get lost in the fact the Cowboys didn’t come away with the win, despite Romo throwing for over 500 yards and the offense scoring 48 points. Even still, this was such a phenomenal play.
5. Touchdown catch from Dez Bryant
It’s fun when the offense pulls off some shenanigans, especially if the team is winning. The Cowboys gave fans a little extra excitement when Dez Bryant would join one of many who have thrown a touchdown pass to Witten.
What makes this more enjoyable is that Witten even throws up the “X”
4. Game-winning touchdown pass from Tony Romo
When there is only 13 seconds left in the game and you need a touchdown to win it, who else are you going to go to, but to Jason Witten. It’s really not a secret; I’m surprised the New York Giants were caught off guard. Haven’t they ever watched football?
Romo would even pretend to drop the ball and let it roll around a little just to add some dramatics. He’s silly like that sometimes.
3. Game-winning touchdown pass from Dak Prescott
It was deja vu all over again on Sunday Night Football, only the NFC East opponent was the Philadelphia Eagles and the quarterback was Dak Prescott. The result was the same though as anyone that has Witten on their team learns quickly that he’s the go-to guy in crunch time.
2. Fourth-down catch against the Detroit Lions in the playoffs
This is one of my favorite Witten plays for a couple of reasons. First, the significance of the play was huge. It was 4th-and-6 with six minutes to go in the season. The Cowboys were down by three to the Detroit Lions in the Divisional playoff game. This first down catch by Witten was a clutch play that helped set up the game-winning touchdown.
But even more than that, it reinforces the connection between Romo and Witten. On this play, Witten was supposed to cut outside to receive the pass. The linebacker had done his homework and was hugging Witten the entire way and broke outside anticipating the pass. But in the chess game that is football, Witten would one-up him and break inside instead. Fortunately, Romo understands how Witten operates and waited just long enough to tell what 82 was doing.
Poor defender. Even when you guess right, you guess wrong.
These little nuances to Witten’s game is what makes him so difficult to cover and is what we are going to miss the most. You just can’t teach stuff like that. It’s pure instincts.
1. No helmet, no problem
If there is a single play that embodies Witten’s football career, it’s this one. In 15 seasons in the league, Witten has only missed one game and that was when he suffered a broken jaw his rookie season. The guy breaks his jaw and only misses one game! That should have been a pretty good indicator of his toughness and help understand why he’s been on the field ever day since.
My favorite Jason Witten moment of all time. The no helmet run after catch back in 2007... Receptions: 1,152. Yards: 12,448. TD’s: 68. Thank you @JasonWitten for a great career. Next stop, Canton. #CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/rhdG0tpnh5— Ernie (@es3_28) April 27, 2018
The NFL had to implement a new rule that stated if your helmet comes off, the play is ruled dead at that spot. Prior to that, they just assumed regular people would stop running once they no longer had their helmet. But Jason Witten isn’t a regular person. The Jones’ family might as well start building that helmet-less statue and roll it out in front of The Star right away as it represents what we think of when we think of Witten.
Just like that, Jason Witten is gone. There will no first-down catches, no more ankle-breaking guys 10 times his junior, and no more 82 standing inside the huddle. It’s a sad day for Cowboys fans, but Witten will always have a special place in our hearts.
What are your favorite Jason Witten moments?