Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones literally and figuratively “found oil” in the third round of the 2003 NFL draft. With the 69th overall pick the Cowboys selected University of Tennessee tight end, Jason Witten.
Witten earned a reputation for toughness his rookie year after suffering a broken jaw and missing only one game because of it. In 2007 Witten was named “Howie Long’s Toughest Man in the NFL” mostly because of his renowned helmet-less run down field against the Philadelphia Eagles.
In what seems like a Hall of Fame career so far, Witten has 696 career receptions, good enough for second all-time in Cowboys history. He also has 7,909 yards, a team record for tight ends, which ranks him third among all-time Cowboys receivers.
When news broke on Wednesday that Witten suffered a ruptured spleen during the Cowboys first preseason game, I worried. I worried because I’ve seen Witten put his personal well being aside and try to get back in the game.
Witten has stated that he wants to play in the season opener against the New York Giants, and I worry that Witten’s toughness will worsen his injury or even endanger his life.
The Cowboys, under head coach Jason Garrett, are rebuilding. Since taking over as head coach, Garrett has built this team with youth in mind and is continuing to do so, evident by the obvious lack of proven depth along the offensive line, defensive line, wide receiver and now, tight end.
The team may seem closer to winning a championship this year than it was last year, but it’s still a long ways away from being a championship team. It’s far away enough that the risk of losing Witten for the season and maybe longer, outweighs the reward of having him return before he’s completely healthy.
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