IRVING, Texas — On Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten appeared at a Dallas area elementary school wearing bunny slippers to help kickoff National Breakfast Week, an initiative of Dairy MAX and Fuel Up to Play 60. The nine-time Pro Bowler and 31 year-old man appeared in morning footwear usually not seen this side of the JCPenney catalog.
Acts like these aren’t uncommon for Witten. In 2013, he held a football camp in both Dallas and his hometown of Elizabethton, Tennesee. He went to bat for the Salvation Army in a home run derby. He has served food for charity: both as a celebrity waiter and also behind a soup kitchen counter. Every December, he routinely visits sick children’s hospital beds.
Why does he do it? Is he a fledgling rookie who needs to garner all the public opinion he can to stay on the team? “Hey, Coach, the community loves me.”
No, Witten leads the franchise with 879 receptions (and counting) and is third in touchdowns with 52. His 110 catches in 2012 were the most for a tight end, besting living legend Tony Gonzalez’s record of 102. Though fans disagree on his skills declining, both sides are indissolubly united on whether Witten is Hall of Fame worthy.
Jason Witten gives back to the community because he’s kind, a trait that compliments his strength on the grid iron.
As a reporter, I have seen him extend this kindness to our ilk. Even though he may be there to give the downtrodden or the vulnerable a star-studded afternoon, Witten takes the time to answer questions the media throws at him, even the ones related to football or Tony Romo. Anytime Witten makes an off-season appearance, the media loves to ask him about his best friend on the team. And the All Pro answers.
One such instance I can recall of Witten’s kindness that he extended to me was during the team’s early Thanksgiving meal serving at a Salvation Army location in downtown Dallas. While the rest of my colleagues were interviewing Witten, I was upstairs on another level interviewing other Cowboys players and officials to get a more diverse bin of sound bites. When I came back down, Witten was washing his hands and ready to leave.
“Hey, Jason, I know you’re ready to leave, but do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”
Witten took the time with me, as though I were wearing a blue suit and had a red moustache only Jeffery Jones could appreciate. The reality: I was an undrafted free agent rookie reporter who had yet to earn game day credentials, let alone Valley Ranch access (yet). He answered my questions, I got my story, and I was free to put together a nice piece on the Cowboys’ community outreach that day.
This is the type of charity and giving attitude that endears Witten to Cowboys Nation, on top of his performances on the playing surface. Of all of the players on the Cowboys roster, Jason Witten is among the most humble and lives out his life (public, at least) with humility.
Indications are Witten won’t slow up this off-season. In less than three weeks, Witten will speak at a fundraiser for Our Father’s Children, a North Texas outreach to abused and neglected children.
And if Jason’s quotes to Jon Machota are true, indications are the tight end won’t slow up on the field in 2014 either.
Our very own Matt Thornton went to a Glazier Football Clinic, click here to read about his findings.