Witten in January 2013
No. 82 Dallas Cowboys
|Date of birth:May 6, 1982|
|Place of birth: Elizabethton, Tennessee|
|High school: Elizabethton (TN)|
|NFL Draft: 2003 / Round: 3 / Pick: 69|
|Debuted in 2003 for the Dallas Cowboys|
|Roster status: Active|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2013
Christopher Jason Witten (born May 6, 1982) is an American football tight end for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Tennessee, and was drafted by the Cowboys in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He holds the Cowboys franchise record for career receptions.
Witten attended Elizabethton High School in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Witten's father was abusive towards his mother, and when he was eleven, Witten moved to Elizabethton to live with his grandparents. His grandfather was also the coach of the football team, where he was a two-way player, playing linebacker and tight end.
He became a four-year starter and helped his team reach the state semifinals three times. As a senior linebacker, he finished the season with 163 tackles (registering a career school record 450), 9 sacks, 2 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and 2 blocked kicks. That year he received several accolades: All-America selection, All-State selection (also as a junior), USA Today Player of the Year for Tennessee, East Tennessee Player of the Year, Region Defensive Player of the Year and runner-up for the Mr. Football award. He also played basketball, where he averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per-game.
Witten accepted a scholarship to the University of Tennessee, where he played for the Tennessee Volunteers football team. He was first tried at defensive end, before being moved to tight end to improve the position's depth. He received his first starts (3) as a sophomore, before having a break out year as a junior and setting school records for a tight end in receptions (39) and receiving yards (493) with five touchdowns. He was also an All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection and received Academic All-SEC honors after leading the conference's tight ends in receptions and receiving yards.
Although he decided to enter the NFL draft after his junior season, he left third all-time among the school's tight ends with 68 career receptions and fourth all-time with 797 receiving yards.
Although the Dallas Cowboys had a first round grade on Witten for the 2003 NFL Draft, when their turn came in the second round, they selected Al Johnson based on team needs (after drafting cornerback Terrence Newman in the first round). Although Johnson had a short career in the NFL, another rookie who also arrived in Dallas in 2003 would go on to become Jason Witten's teammate for the next 11+ years (as well as his roommate during future team training camps and travel games): undrafted rookie free agent Tony Romo.
The Cowboys eventually drafted Witten 69th overall, when he was still available in the third round. In a limited role during his rookie season, he started only seven of the fifteen games he played in, registering 35 receptions for 347 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. He broke his jaw against the Arizona Cardinals, after being hit by Ronald McKinnon and Ray Thompson, but continued to play through this injury after missing only one game. Then-head coach Bill Parcells complimented Witten on his toughness.
In 2004, Witten had 87 catches, eleventh most in history by a tight end and a Cowboys team record for the position, and was selected to his first Pro Bowl, becoming a part of the Cowboys franchise's legacy of great tight ends that includes: Jim Doran, Lee Folkins, Pettis Norman, Mike Ditka, Billy Joe DuPree, Jackie Smith, Doug Cosbie and Jay Novacek.
Witten was named to his second Pro Bowl for his performance in the 2005 season.
At the end of the 2006 NFL season, Witten became just the tenth tight end in NFL history to post three consecutive seasons with at least 60 receptions. Witten was named to his third Pro Bowl for his performance in the 2006 season.
On July 22, 2006, Witten signed a six-year, $29 million contract extension through 2012. The deal contains $12 million guaranteed, including a $6 million signing bonus and a $6 million option bonus in the second year.
Witten had a career year during the 2007 NFL season. He set the Cowboys single-season tight end record for receptions in a season with 96, while also becoming only the third tight end in NFL history with 96 or more catches. On December 9, 2007, versus the Detroit Lions, Witten's 15 receptions tied an NFL record held by Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow Sr., for most receptions in a game by a tight end in NFL history. In the 14th game of the year, Witten became the first Dallas tight end ever to gain over 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Witten was also one of the NFL-record 13 Cowboys players selected to the Pro Bowl. Additionally, he made the 2007 All-Pro team along with teammates Terrell Owens and DeMarcus Ware. In the Week 9 game on November 4, while playing at Philadelphia, he made a 53-yard reception after losing his helmet.
Jason Witten had another Pro Bowl season, making 94 receptions for 1,030 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He was also given the NFL Iron Man award.
Witten banged his head on the turf after making a catch in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears. He was forced to miss the rest of the game with a concussion.
In a Week 15 game against the Washington Redskins, Witten became the fastest tight end to make 600 receptions (125 games). He accomplished this with a 10 catch, 140 yard, 1 touchdown day at home. He received his 7th consecutive Pro Bowl selection when he was named as the starting tight end for the NFC.
He hauled in 94 receptions for 1,002 yards and 9 touchdowns for the 2010 season.
Witten finished the season with 79 receptions for 942 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns playing in all 16 games. On November 13, 2011, Witten surpassed Ozzie Newsome as the tight end with the third most receptions in NFL history with 663.
On September 5, 2012, Witten caught 2 passes for 10 yards in the season opening victory over the New York Giants. Witten's availability for the game was in question due to the spleen injury he suffered during the preseason, but he was active for the game after being medically cleared to play.
On September 16, 2012 against the Seattle Seahawks, Witten caught 4 passes for 58 yards. He finished the game with 702 career receptions to become just the second player in franchise history to reach 700+ catches (Michael Irvin has 750) and the third tight end in NFL history to do so (Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe are the other two). Witten became the fastest tight end to reach 700 catches, reaching the milestone in 145 games, Gonzalez took 154 games and Sharpe took 178 games. Witten also became the youngest wide receiver/tight end to reach 700+ catches with 30 years, 133 days. This record was later broken in Week 3 by Cardinals' wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who totaled 707 career catches with 29 years, 23 days. Furthermore, his 58 yard performance gave him 7,977 receiving yards for his career passing Jackie Smith for fourth all-time in receiving yards among tight ends.
After week 3, Witten passed former tight end Ozzie Newsome for third place all-time in receiving yards among tight ends.
In week 8, Witten caught a career-high 18 passes for a total of 167 yards. This is also a record for receptions by a tight end; the previous record of 15 receptions was set by Kellen Winslow Sr. in 1984.
On December 23, 2012, against the New Orleans Saints, Witten set the NFL single-season record for receptions by a tight end. Witten's 103rd catch of the season broke the previous record of 102 receptions, which had been set by Tony Gonzalez in 2004. He extended the record to 110 in the season finale.
On December 26, 2012, he was selected to his 8th Pro Bowl.
For the second time in his career, Witten was nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, this time winning the award and the $25,000 donation to his charity.
On September 15, 2013, Witten surpassed Shannon Sharpe with the second most receptions as a tight end in NFL history. His 3 catches during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs brought his total to 817.
NFL records and achievements
- Most receptions in a single season by a tight end: 110 (2012)
- Most receptions in a single game by a tight end: 18 (October 28, 2012)
- Third most receiving yards in NFL history by a tight end: 9,799
- Second most receptions by a tight end in NFL history: 879
- 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner 
Cowboys franchise records
- Most career receptions: 879
- Most receptions in a single game: 18 (October 28, 2012)
Witten resides in Coppell, Texas, located in the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, with his wife, Michelle, an emergency room nurse at Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital, and their sons, C. J. and Cooper. Witten and his wife gave birth to a daughter in late 2012, but chose to keep her name private from the media. It was later revealed that her name is Landry.
He launched the Jason Witten SCORE Foundation, established in part to provide support and assistance for families and individuals affected by domestic violence. Witten appeared in an NFL/United Way public-service announcement (PSA), stressing the importance of volunteering. The spot was filmed at Witten's annual free football camp in his hometown of Elizabethton, Tennessee, where more than 1,000 children attended in 2007. Witten also appears in a video on I Am Second in which he talks about his Christian faith.
- "Witten on Pro-Football-Reference". rbref.com. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
- Taylor, Jean-Jacques. "Dez Bryant has a role model handy". ESPN.com. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- Cowboys' Jason Witten takes on domestic violence
- "Sturm's Cowboys analysis: Defenses still can't stop Jason Witten".
- "Ellis Helps Cowboys Stretch Pro Bowlers To 13". Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- "NFL Alumni Names Winners of 2010 Player of the Year Awards". NFL Alumni. 2011-02-05. Retrieved 2011-02-09.
- "Jason Witten Among Elite Tight Ends". ESPN. 2011-11-13. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
- Archer, Todd (August 16, 2012). "Jason Witten hopes to avoid surgery". ESPNDallas.com. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
- Archer, Todd (September 6, 2012). "Jason Witten has two catches in win". ESPNDallas.com. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- "Jason Witten moves to No. 2 on all-time tight end receptions list - NFL - Sporting News". Sporting News. 2013-09-15. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- "Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year". nfl.com.
- "Dallas Cowboys Receiving Career Register". pro-football-reference.com.
- Wife of Cowboys Star Shines in the ER
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