Will Witten Be Critical of Former Teammates During MNF Broadcast?
Jason Witten’s return to AT&T Stadium tonight will be his first opportunity to broadcast a Cowboys’ game as ESPN’s analyst for Monday Night Football.
Witten joined BaD Radio’s hosts Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell on “The Ticket 1310AM” last Thursday to talk about calling a game that involves his former teammates and coaches.
Alex Brandon via AP
“The one thing I’ll say is, people always wonder if I’m going to be critical,” said Witten. “Look, I have a lot invested with those guys. I would never bury them, I hope to never do that in broadcasting in general. I want to call the game how I see it. I certainly feel like that’s what I’ve done at different times in critical moments, like ‘I can’t believe he ran that coverage!’ or ‘Why wouldn’t you be more aware in those situations?’
“But those old teammates of mine, I have a lot of respect for them. The bottom line is: they’ve heard me be critical when I was a teammate of theirs. So, I don’t think they expect anything less.”
Witten told Bob & Dan that one of the things he really enjoys about broadcasting different teams each week is the ability to talk to different players and coaches. Broadcasting has allowed Witten to expand his football horizons.
Ron Jenkins via AP
“When I played, if you talk about ‘tunnel vision’, I was the worst,” admitted Witten. “I was in my own little world. ‘What was my matchup? What blitz are they running? What coverage do they play? How do I block a certain guy on this play?’
“I know the Cowboys’ Way and I have an extreme loyalty to what I learned there and how they do things. But now I’m seeing a lot of other things around the league, from different approaches to offensive & defensive schemes, to how they build a team, to how they attack free agency and the draft.
“ I had 45 minutes with Bill Belichick (Patriots head coach) and, honestly, I was more happy in that moment talking ball than anywhere else in the world.
“I always thought I would die on the vine and, in a lot of ways, I probably did. I won. Playing 15 years for one team, to be embraced at a position by a franchise that had so much success over the course of time with Jay Novacek and (Billy Joe) Dupree. When I look back I think, ‘Man, I was 20 years old when I was drafted here and didn’t know if I would survive the first rookie minicamp with Parcells’.
“To think I would be able to play as long as I did? The only regret – and I don’t know if it’s a regret as much as a wish I could have – I wish I could have won a championship.”
When Tony Romo returned to AT&T Stadium last year to broadcast his first Cowboys’ game as a member of the CBS crew, the Cowboys played a nostalgic video tribute to Romo during pregame. Witten doesn’t know if there is any in-stadium pregame recognition planned for his return on Monday night. Either way, he knows everyone will be dialed-in and ready for kickoff.
“I had great times for 15 years and I’m going to forever be indebted to those fans what they meant to me,” says the future Hall of Famer. “But they’ve got a game to worry about and they don’t need to worry about old #82.”