A stalwart of the Dallas Cowboys organization for 15-years, Witten represents The Star like no other.
A sure-fire future Hall of Famer after 11 Pro Bowls, 12 franchise records, a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and more receptions than all but three players in the history of the game, Witten announced his retirement to join ESPN as an analyst for Monday Night Football during an emotional news conference.
He is ranked fourth all-time in receptions, behind only Jerry Rice (1,549), Tony Gonzalez (1,325) and Larry Fitzgerald (1,234). Tony Romo, the Cowboys' quarterback from 2006 to 2015 and a close friend of Witten's, retired a year ago and also headed to the broadcast booth.
Dozens lined Witten's walk from the entrance to the team's headquarters, down some stairs and a long hallway to the dining room.
The Cowboys were eager to have him back, but team executive vice president Stephen Jones said there was no pressure on the tight end.
Through his own charitable foundation, Jason Witten's SCORE Foundation, Witten has launched numerous outreach programs and funded several new building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee.
"I never wanted this day to come". His 15 seasons are tied for the most in Dallas with defensive end Ed "Too Tall" Jones, safety Bill Bates and late offensive lineman Mark Tuinei.
While former bigger-name Dallas teammates such as Terrell Owens, Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott often made headlines for the wrong reasons, Witten, professionally and respectfully, went about his business and was a positive ambassador for one of the most recognizable sports franchises on the planet. "The stats and the credentials speak for themselves". Witten also earned consensus first-team All-SEC recognition in 2002 after establishing a then single-season school-record for catches (39) and receiving yards (493) by a tight end. From that trio, only Swaim has an National Football League catch to his name having grabbed nine in total. Dallas drafted Stanford's Dalton Schultz in the fourth round last week.
"After much self-reflection, prayer and faith, today I have decided the time has come for me to pass the torch and retire", Witten said. I think that you could chase that thing forever and it might be the next year, but it might be 10 years away.
"(Witten is) simply the best example of what you want a football player and person to be, on and off the field", Garrett said.