One of the saddest days in any sports fan’s life…is when one of their favorite players decides to retire. We have all experienced it. One day you’re watching an all-time great dominating his position, and it seems like the next day, you see him emotionally walking away from the game he loves. There are many reasons why players retire, but that’s a topic for another post.
How does a player retiring affect the fans? Depending on various factors, it can be devastating. How good was the player? Was he a good leader? Did he seem like a good person? There are many factors and these are just a few, that dictate how we as fans feel about a player retiring. I can only speak for myself, but I can assume I’m not the only one.
As a loyal fan, we start to feel like we’re part of the teams we root for. We start to use terms like “we” and “us” when discussing the events surrounding the team. “We” need to do this better, “We” need to go out and trade for this player, “We” got our butts kicked today, and so on. The teams we root for start becoming part of us, and we become emotionally attached. As certain players ascend and become the face of the franchise, we begin our “relationship” with that player. We start following them on social media, we start bookmarking stories about them, and we may even Google them regularly to see what is going on in their lives. We are interested in them. We are also interested in how all of these parts of their life may impact the team. We may even start to imitate them; things they wear, things they say or do. Sometimes that isn’t necessarily a good thing. But sometimes it is.
Players like Jason Witten don’t come along very often. Yeah, he may not have been the fastest or most athletic to ever play tight end. But what he did offer more than made up for those things he lacked. Players like Jason Witten are worth imitating, both on and off the field.
First, let’s consider what he has accomplished on the field:
- Second most receptions and receiving yards by a TE in NFL history
- Only the 2nd TE in NFL history with over 1,000 receptions
- 4th most receptions in NFL history by a player at ANY position
- To see more of Jason’s amazing stats, see http://jasonwitten82.com/bio/
Second, and more importantly, let’s consider what Jason has accomplished off the field(so far):
- Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation started in 2008, partnering with several Texas organizations to provide the friendship and guidance of a positive male role model for more than 6,400 children escaping family violence.
- Pro Football Weekly Humanitarian of the Year in 2010.
- 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner
- There’s more…read more about Jason’s foundation here: http://jasonwitten82.com/foundation/
There is no doubt about how much Jason Witten has meant to people both on and off the football field. He surely has used his abilities and resources for good. For many years, Jason was a favorite of many, if not all Dallas Cowboy fans. He gave us a positive role model, as well as a good example of leadership, sportsmanship, and just being a good guy. I was saddened the day he announced his retirement. It was as if a good friend or a big brother would no longer be around every Sunday. He offered so much on the field and was such a joy to watch. He always knew where to be and what to do. He always handled his assignment and tried really hard to make sure the other players did theirs too. His passion for the game was evident. I loved watching him get fired up on the sideline, get upset, because it didn’t happen that often. But when it did, people knew he meant it. People knew he wanted to win, and they had to be accountable.
When Jason retired, I knew I was going to miss him. I knew the Cowboys would miss him. I knew that a player, a man like Jason Witten would be very hard to replace. In reality, he can’t be replaced. And he’ll always be one of my favorite Dallas Cowboys of all time.
I can’t imagine the elation that has been felt by Dallas Cowboys nation to see big number 82 announce that he’s coming back. We welcome him back with open arms. Not just because he always knows to get past the sticks on 3rd down. Not just because he always knows where to be and what to do. Not because he’s a great leader for a young team. And not just because he’s one of the best of all time. But because in addition to all of those things, he’s a great person and a great guy to root for. And we don’t often get to see great players come around a second time, especially after retirement…So even if it’s only for one year, and it’s not exactly the same as before; I say: Welcome back Big Witt!