In honor of his birthday, yesterday, I’m dedicating this post to my favorite active football player.
Jason Witten was born May 6, 1982, only eleven months before me, in Tennessee. He was a High School All-American linebacker and tight end, and the USA Today Tennessee Player of the Year, then became a University of Tennessee Volunteer. Jason moved to tight end under Vols coach Phil Fulmer, and set school receiving records for a single season for both receptions and yards.
In the 2003 draft, he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round (69th overall). Always one of the toughest guys on the field, the only game he missed as a rookie was because of a broken jawbone.
(This picture is not of Jason fumbling the ball, but of him breaking up an attempted lateral by a defensive player after an interception.)
Jason has been a Pro Bowl Tight End for six consecutive seasons, every year since his second in the league. He is consistently in the top tier of tight ends, and his receiving yards even rival most wide receivers. Not only does he seem to have Velcro hands and the fortitude of a tank, but he is a great blocker as well. With little talent at the fullback position for the last few years, Jason regularly lines up between Romo (quarterback) and Jones or Barber (running back) when in the I-formation.
He and quarterback Tony Romo have great chemistry together, and Jason is one of Tony’s favorite targets, especially on third down or when Tony is feeling pressured- he knows Jason will do everything humanly possible to catch the ball and make it to the line. Many fans wonder why Jason isn’t used in the red zone as much as he should be.
Witten isn’t only a great guy to have on the field, but he’s a great guy off it as well. Every June, the Jason Witten Football Camp is held in Elizabethon, Tennessee, his hometown, which has become one of the country’s largest free football camps. He has launched the Jason Witten SCOREkeepers program, placing positive male role models in family abuse centers; the Jason Witten Learning Centers at Boys & Girls Clubs centers in Dallas and Elizabethton, and the Jason Witten Emergency Waiting Room at Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, Tennessee. He also presented the first two Jason Witten Football Camp scholarships for $5,000 each to two deserving high school athletes. Not content to merely be a real-life hero and a gridiron beast, he’s also starred in an issue of the comic book Archie Comics.
Oh, and he’s not bad looking, either 🙂
Happy Birthday to a future NFL Hall of Fame and Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor member, Christopher Jason Witten.