Jason Witten’s somewhat iffy one-year tenure in the Monday Night Football booth ended last week when he decided to return to the Dallas Cowboys for 2019. So are any other players-turned-broadcasters ready to get back on the field?
NFL Network’s Steve Smith, one of the finest wide receivers of his era, has no plans to follow Witten back into the game. His reason is simple: he’s good at his job.
Steve Smith on NFL Network talking about Jason Witten: "I'm actually good on TV so I'll just stay here."
— Michael Schwartz (@MikeMSchwartz) March 2, 2019
To say that Witten was unpopular and gaffe-prone as a broadcaster would be understating things. Smith has no such issue. Not only is he popular as a TV personality, but he’s even outlined the efforts he’s gone to in order to ensure that he doesn’t get the urge to play again. When he’s dropping one-liners like that, why would he?
Jason Witten retired from football last year so he could pursue a career in broadcasting, and the 11-time Pro Bowler apparently regretted the decision.
On Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys announced that Witten will leave the “Monday Night Football” broadcast booth to re-join the team in 2019.
“The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong,” Witten said in a statement. “This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt.”
The 2019 season will be Witten’s 16th with the Cowboys. The 36-year-old was still a major contributor in 2017, catching 63 passes for 560 yards and five touchdowns. Assuming he has stayed in shape, he should have no problem sliding right back into his old role with the Dallas offense.
Witten was heavily criticized for some of the flubs he had during his first season in the broadcast booth, so you have to wonder if that factored into his decision to return to the field.
The 2019 edition of the Pro Bowl ended with an AFC win and a trophy that wasn’t exactly in top condition.
The AFC won Sunday’s game 26-7, with the contest never being a very competitive one. Afterwards, ESPN’s Jason Witten was given the honor of presenting the trophy to offensive MVP and Patrick Mahomes and defensive MVP Jamal Adams.
Just one problem: Witten broke the trophy as he was lifting it.
jason witten can't even present the pro bowl trophy correctly pic.twitter.com/8SKDdlU6bt
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) January 27, 2019
Many people would say that this ten-second video sums up the Pro Bowl better than anything else possibly could.
Witten has had a lot of critics this season, and he made another gaffe during Sunday’s telecast. It’s fair to say this was, unfortunately, a fitting end to a difficult game and season for him as a broadcaster.
ESPN’s Jason Witten has taken a lot of criticism for his uneven performances in the Monday Night Football booth this season, and he had another forgettable moment early on in Sunday’s Pro Bowl.
After AFC quarterback Patrick Mahomes found tight end Eric Ebron for the game’s first touchdown, Witten remarked that Ebron “was his guy all year” despite the fact that the two play for rival teams.
Patrick Mahomes throws a TD pass to Eric Ebron
Jason Witten: “Ebron was his guy all year”
Good to see Witten in Pro Bowl form pic.twitter.com/Zy4A0lYw9H
— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) January 27, 2019
Not only are Mahomes and Ebron on different teams, but the quarterback’s Kansas City Chiefs actually beat the tight end’s Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs, so it’s hard to know what was going through Witten’s mind at that point.
Twitter certainly didn’t let him off the hook for his gaffe.
Jason Witten can’t even commentate the most irrelevant game of the year.
— Jeff Bulanda (@jeffbulanda) January 27, 2019
— Tim Dennis (@TDennisSportTog) January 27, 2019
Mahomes to Ebron for a TD in the Pro Bowl
Jason Witten: “that’s been his guy all year”
Hey Witten, that’s enough.
— Jake Forbes (@JForbes13) January 27, 2019
Who's gonna tell Jason Witten that Ebron and Mahomes don't play for the same team during the regular season?? LOL!
— Sheena Quick (@Sheena_Marie3) January 27, 2019
Witten has made light of some of his previous mistakes in the booth this season. Expect him to do the same here or ignore it entirely.
- Jason Witten
Jason Witten has not even spent a full season as a broadcaster with his new ESPN gig, and his former coach has already tried to convince him to come out of retirement and return to playing in the NFL.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has made more than one attempt this season to get Witten to put the pads on again, including recently when he tried to sell the former tight end on the idea of a postseason run. While Witten was still a productive player last season and probably still could be, he has resisted the urge.
The Cowboys have turned things around recently with four straight wins and appear to be headed to the playoffs. Adding Amari Cooper has given their passing game a boost, but they still lack a playmaking tight end. Witten, who caught 63 passes and scored five touchdowns last season, could probably stabilize the Dallas offense even more.
Witten has had some rough moments in his first season with the “Monday Night Football” crew, but the 36-year-old must have been certain about his new career path when he retired from playing last year. It seems unlikely that he will change his mind at this point.
Jason Witten has been criticized for what some felt was a hypocritical take this week about the Washington Redskins claiming Reuben Foster off waivers, and the former tight end has tried to clarify his stance.
During the second half of “Monday Night Football” between the Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, the topic of domestic violence came up among the ESPN broadcast crew. Witten said he has a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence and ripped the Redskins for using “horrendous judgment” in claiming Foster.
Witten’s take rubbed people the wrong way because it wasn’t all that long ago that he publicly supported the Dallas Cowboys’ decision to sign Greg Hardy, who had also faced disturbing allegations of domestic violence. Witten praised Hardy for being a hard worker and good teammate, and he admitted on Wednesday that he regretted the way he handled the situation.
Thanks for your opinion, Robert. Privately, I let my opinion be known and agreed to disagree. That day after practice I chose not to be divisive. Prob went too far. On Monday with platform and no longer member of a team,I spoke my mind. Would love your support w/
SCORE Foundation https://t.co/0ipiGwX1Hi
— Jason Witten (@JasonWitten) December 5, 2018
As Robert Littal of Black Sports Online put it, Witten was being a company man by not speaking out against the Cowboys signing Hardy. He apparently told the team privately that he did not agree with the move, but the public remarks were the only ones that resonated.
Witten’s family was affected by domestic violence when he was growing up, and his charity has focused its efforts on curbing domestic violence and working with victims.
The first season in the booth has not been all that easy for Witten, as this is not the first time he has been crushed for something he said during the broadcast.
Jason Witten made clear how he feels about the Washington Redskins claiming Reuben Foster off waivers.
During the second half of “Monday Night Football” between the Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, the ESPN broadcast crew had a discussion about domestic violence. Analyst Booger McFarland stressed that domestic violence is a societal problem, while Witten crushed Washington for adding Foster after the 49ers cut him over his arrest last week for suspected domestic violence.
When asked if Washington should have claimed the linebacker, Witten did not mince words.
“A hundred percent, no. I believe the Washington Redskins used horrendous judgment in claiming this guy. I understand that it’s an ongoing investigation. But my family has been affected by domestic violence. I understand the anguish that it causes. Young players just have to understand there is no tolerance for putting your hands on a woman, period.”
Jason Witten asked on Monday Night Football if the Redskins should have taken a chance on claiming linebacker Reuben Foster: pic.twitter.com/xDBI0CDt0V
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 4, 2018
Witten’s answer should not come as a great surprise. His charity has focused its efforts on curbing domestic violence and working with victims. Witten’s family was affected by domestic violence when he was growing up, which has led to his passionate thoughts on the subject.
Despite his feelings on the matter, Witten has also expressed support for former teammates Greg Hardy and Ezekiel Elliott, who both faced domestic violence accusations.