Jason Witten will make his regular season debut as the lead color analyst for Monday Night Football in just a few days when ESPN broadcasts Week 1’s Los Angeles Rams visit to the Oakland Raiders. It’ll be a great game, with a great guy, it’ll be fun.
Another part of Witten’s new duties with ESPN are weekly columns. You might remember that in his inaugural piece he cautioned NFL players as to the perils of social media only for Dez Bryant to take a flamethrower to the Cowboys on Twitter just a few hours later. Oh, irony.
Witten’s latest column is all about a classic Witten topic - leadership. He literally begins it with the words “On a recent ESPN special,” so it seems like Jason is doing well as a company man right off the bat. That’s not shocking.
Before he dives into the big L-word, Witten drops every August trope of NFL teams, and they’re spookily applicable to the 2018 Cowboys.
Start with the illusion: Anyone who follows football in August knows that nearly every team has had its “best offseason training program” ever, a new O-coordinator or defensive wizard is on board and has the secret sauce that was missing from the previous coach. Guys who got in trouble off the field are ready for a second or third chance and saying how much they’ve grown up. There’s a “newfound chemistry,” and, of course, a new yoga program is going to take a player to the next level. Did I forget the rising star ready to take on a new role? OK. Check.
We’ve got Kris Richard, Randy Gregory, Dak-friendly, and that’s right, the Cowboys did yoga. Oh and the rising stars? Pick anyone. A member of the Hot Boyz, Chidobe Awuzie, Rico Gathers if you’re in the right mood, you get the idea.
Getting to leadership, Witten discusses how there are aspects to it. He even names three:
- The roster glue
- The stars
- The captains
If you watched Amazon’s series “All or Nothing” that profiled the 2017 Cowboys then you saw Witten gather his fellow captains in the first episode as he discussed what an honor it was to be nominated. It doesn’t take the ultimate Cowboys aficionado to see how much Witten relished the responsibility that came with captaincy.
Witten’s thoughts on leadership encompass more than these archetypes, he also discusses things leaders shouldn’t do. It makes sense that captains would need to be unafraid of confrontation, a point Jason touches on, but these don’t have to be high-volume things. In Jason Witten’s words, the louder you are generally isn’t a great thing.
The biggest thing: You don’t have to be the loudest. No joke, the loudest guys are often among the worst leaders I have seen. They think their voice is a substitute for the work, but it just isn’t. Nobody wants a hype man.
It’s going to be very interesting to see the types of topics that Witten continues to touch on throughout his weekly column. During his first column about social media he noted that he’d seen players on their phones in the locker room at halftime, and the thing about that is is that Witten only played for one team throughout his career - the Cowboys. All of his experiences are tied to one team so they innately raise questions about what happened inside of Valley Ranch or The Star.