Injuries, tragedy and a disappointing season have all overshadowed one of the most historic seasons by any Dallas Cowboys player ever.
In 2003, the Cowboys drafted a 6-5 260 pound 21 year-old kid out of the University of Tennessee. He wasn’t the biggest, fastest or strongest guy in the draft, but head coach Bill Parcells and general manager Jerry Jones took a chance and selected him with the 69th overall pick in the third-round.
Prior to the Cowboys’ selection four tight ends were selected including Dallas Clark, Bennie Joppru, L.J. Smith and Teyo Johnson.
Fast-forward to 2012 and one could argue that drafting Jason Witten is one of the best decisions Jones has ever made as the team’s general manager.
To start the 2012 season, Witten suffered a ruptured spleen, which put his streak of 139-consecutive games played in jeopardy. However, as has been customary, the one-time NFL Iron Man Award recipient played in the season-opener, and stretched his consecutive-games played streak to 140.
Since then, Witten has been on a tear en route to breaking individual, team and NFL records.
In week two, Witten caught four passes and finished the game with 702 career receptions. It marked only the second time in Cowboys history that a player reached 700+ career catches. It also marked the third time in NFL history that a tight end reached the 700-catch mark. In doing so Witten also became the youngest receiver or tight end to reach 700 receptions.
After week three, Witten moved past Ozzie Newsome for third all-time in receiving yards among tight ends.
Against the New York Giants, Witten recorded 18-catches, which set a new NFL record for catches in a single game by a tight end and placed him in a tie for the third-most catches in a game by any player.
Against the Atlanta Falcons, Witten became the Cowboys franchise reception leader by catching No. 751. He finished the night with 754 career catches.
In the win against the Cincinnati Bengals, Witten upped his career total to 8,789 receiving yards and passed Joe Horn and Mark Carrier for 59th all-time in receiving yards.
Witten can make more NFL history if he can bring in 11 more catches in the remaining three games because it would set the single season receptions record for a tight end. Tony Gonzalez set that mark with 102 catches in 2004.
If he can get 20 more catches he would not only capture the NFL record, but he would also set the Cowboys’ single-season record, which Hall of Famer Michael Irvin set in 1995 with 111 receptions.
Currently Witten has 92 receptions for 880 yards. It marks the fourth time in his career that he’s registered a 90-catch season tying him with Gonzalez as the only two tight ends in NFL history to reach that mark.
Throughout the success, Witten has remained humble and focused. He’s said that while the records are a nice accomplishment, his sights are set on getting a championship.