Dallas Cowboys legendary tight end Jason Witten ended his one-year retirement to re-join the only team he has ever played for, for the upcoming NFL season, in hopes of elevating them to an NFL Championship.
On Saturday, Witten took the field for the first time since he hung up his cleats, and his first game-action since December 31st, 2017.
The 37-year old tight end caught one pass for 10 yards in the Cowboys’ preseason victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Aloha Stadium, and admitted he was nervous entering his first game in well over a year.
“A year away from the game, all the work to get back here since March, getting in shape, getting your body ready, having an opportunity, I know I’ve got a lot to prove,” Witten said, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.
“It wasn’t perfect. I thought we’re on schedule with the things I want to work on. Able to get a third-down conversion. Dak showed he had the confidence on that. Some of the other things in the passing game, running game, I felt good with. It’s always tricky when you’re coming back out here … so the jitters were real. A lot of work to get back to here, but it felt good.”
Witten is expected to play a large role, both on the field and as a leader in the locker room, roles he assumed prior to his retirement, for most of his career.
Witten is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in games played, consecutive games played, receptions and receiving yards.
“He’s just one of those guys, incredibly reliable, had a great understanding of the game, very quarterback-friendly, and he comes up big in crunch time,” Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett said.
“He’s done that throughout his career. It was good to see him out here, good to see him playing football, having fun playing football and getting a few snaps under his belt.”
Witten may have felt the nerves, but he certainly looked comfortable in his return, albeit a short one.
“Doing what I love, no place I’d rather be,” Witten said. “Feel like I’m on schedule. This is the next step for us, and all through training camp, I felt good. We shall see as we move forward, but I wouldn’t bet against.”