We’re officially living in a post-Jason Witten world with the Dallas Cowboys.
Word broke last Friday morning during the NFL draft that Witten was considering retirement to pursue a broadcasting career. That fully materialized on Thursday when he informed the Cowboys he would be hanging them up to be ESPN’s lead analyst on Monday Night Football.
The Cowboys held a retirement press conference for Jason Witten at The Star in Frisco on Thursday, and it was quite emotional.
Cowboys employees and players lined up to greet Jason Witten @NBCDFW @BlueStarBlog pic.twitter.com/k3hYHCy6HQ— Noah Bullard (@noah_bullard) May 3, 2018
Quote board is only playing Jason Witten quotes today. pic.twitter.com/ioONlQOsbn— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) May 3, 2018
Here is the set up for Jason Witten’s press conference from The Star. Along the walls are famous quotes to the team. pic.twitter.com/Lan33hwxCj— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) May 3, 2018
Jason Witten arrives at the Star for his retirement press conference. @NBCDFW pic.twitter.com/4mOD24pKJD— Pat Doney (@PatDoneyNBC5) May 3, 2018
The press conference got started with a video commemorating Jason Witten’s time as a Dallas Cowboy. Prepare yourself.
The #ThankYouWitten pic.twitter.com/96c4TcoTIc— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) May 3, 2018
Witten talked about arriving with the Cowboys in April of 2003, and how much he admired Bill Parcells. He told a story from his rookie minicamp about Coach Parcells telling him he knows how to work with tight ends, and that Witten held on to that throughout the rest of that offseason back in Tennessee.
Emotions ran high right away as Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett, and people throughout the gallery watching began to shed tears. Witten talked about how the journey was the reward for him, and he reflected upon that journey.
Witten referenced past teammates like DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo, Marc Colombo, and Miles Austin. He noted Cowboys that came before him in Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, and Drew Pearson. He also passed the torch, so to speak, by naming a few younger Cowboys, noting that they had earned the right to lead the team he’s called home for 15 years.
Witten names Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence specifically when referencing the next generation of Cowboys players. Says it’s their time to lead, and they’ve earned that right. #cowboyswire— David Helman (@HelmanDC) May 3, 2018
Among the many thank-you's he handed out, Jason Witten finally got to the point where he thanked the Dallas Cowboys. He shared gratitude for Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones, and the Jones family, but he also went on about what an honor it was to play for America’s Team. He said his lone regret was that he wouldn’t be able to hand Jerry Jones a Lombardi Trophy.
Witten: Put on that white jersey, that silver helmet with the navy star, seeing your name on the back of that jersey, and running on the field as a member of America's Team. Brings a certainty of pride and honor. The kind that comes once in a lifetime, to be a Dallas Cowboy.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) May 3, 2018
Jason received a rightful standing ovation, but it was then time for Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett to speak. Jerry talked about how through all the people he’s come into contact with throughout his almost 30 years in the NFL, Jason Witten is among the top five.
Coach Garrett was easily the most emotional of the three. He talked about how he’s used Jason Witten as an example of how you earn respect, but he told a story that tugged at the strings of Cowboys fans in every conceivable way.
Garrett talked about training camp back in 2015 when Jason Witten gave a presentation to the team. It was a presentation based on his famous Y Route (Witten would later reveal that he and Tony Romo came up with this route together), and part of the presentation featured his famed 4th-and-6 catch against the Detroit Lions in the wildcard round the season before.
Jason Garrett went through detail after detail about how Witten transcribed the intricacies of the route, but he finished the story needing to take a swig of water because he got so choked up. He noted that Jason Witten said the reason the play worked the way it did was because of the coverage that Dez Bryant drew, and the way that Tyron Smith was blocking, and the jobs all of his other teammates did on the play. Garrett heralded how even in a moment that was conceivably all about himself, Jason Witten’s first inclination was to highlight his teammates.
Coach Garrett referred to Jason Witten as the standard, and it’s hard to disagree with him. He is unquestionably one of the finest players to ever grace the Dallas Cowboys, and he’ll indeed be missed.
By the numbers. #ThankYouWitten pic.twitter.com/zTocX6Flcf— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) May 3, 2018
To the next chapter.