Jason Witten was announced as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast team last Thursday. It marked the end of a decorated 15-year career as a Dallas Cowboys tight end, and many are interested to see how the former Tennessee star’s football knowledge will translate to his new role as an analyst in the booth.
But is it possible for Witten to return to the field one day? He all but shut down that chance in a recent discussion with ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Speaking on Schefter’s podcast, Witten said he’s not interested in entertaining a short return to the NFL this year or anytime soon.
“I wanted to make sure that I had inner peace about this decision, that I didn’t want to go back and forth,” Witten told Schefter. “And so I’m in a great place. I think that’s unwavering. And those guys have got a good team. They’ve got a good core of young players down there in Dallas. I wish them the best.
“But for me, part of the joy from playing comes from the process. It’s training camp. It’s the meetings. It’s the dinners. And so to think, ‘Hey, I haven’t won a championship. I’m going to dive back in there and get on this five-week run,’ that’s just not my style. I’m going to be all-in, and I’m excited to be able to share kind of this insight that I have [in broadcasting].
“I love the fairy tales too. I do. But in this case, it’s going to be a different one.”
The question from Schefter about Witten’s future was fair, because an NFL player backtracking on a television opportunity isn’t new. Last year, quarterback Jay Cutler agreed to be an analyst with FOX Sports before spurning the network for the Miami Dolphins.
Still, it sounds like Witten is at peace with his choice to walk away from his playing days. He ranked fourth in NFL history among all pass catchers with 1,152 career receptions, trailing only former wide receiver Jerry Rice (1,549), fellow former tight end Tony Gonzalez (1,325) and Arizona Cardinals superstar Larry Fitzgerald (1,234). He offered a classy goodbye to Dallas employees before being announced to his ESPN role.
At this point, it would be a surprise to see Witten in an NFL uniform again.