WACO, Texas — Not even a year after he announced his retirement from the Dallas Cowboys, tight end Jason Witten is back into the routine of being a player once again.
“I’m loving it,” Witten said before he was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. “I’m invigorated by the process of going back in there. I really feel like obviously I’ve got a lot of energy coming back in there. I’m excited, and I think you just get back in there. That’s what I’ve enjoyed the most, getting with the guys, start looking at some tape and working out with Coach [Mike] Woicik and the strength staff some. There’s been nothing like it. I feel like a little kid when my car pulls in. I’m looking forward to the next six, seven months.”
Yeah, it’s a year out. But it’s not too early to consider who could be up for grabs in the NFL’s loaded 2020 free-agent class, including Russell Wilson.
Witten re-joined the Cowboys on a one-year deal worth up to $5 million with the Cowboys earlier this month after spending last season as an analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Witten reiterated that the “fire” to resume playing was too strong to continue in the broadcast booth.
“I said it when I retired a year ago I don’t know that anybody really knows when it’s their time to go, and I was no different,” Witten said. “Look, I had a great experience in the booth. I saw a different perspective. I saw the league from a different point of view in getting the opportunity to go see 31 other teams and how they build their team and go about it.
“But at the same time, I saw the Cowboys team start to come together and a lot of stars and young stars that love the game and when Jerry [Jones] presented me that opportunity to come back, I was just extremely excited. I think more than anything else it was just something that was tugging on me inside to say that maybe there’s something still inside left to go out there and go after that championship.”
Witten’s role might not be what it was when he was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times in his 15 seasons, as the Cowboys will look to play at him at least a slightly reduced role after playing close to 100 percent of the snaps each year.
Witten is the franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards, games played, consecutive games played and games started.
Asked if he had any self-doubt in his return, Witten said, “I don’t, but I also understand that people are going to. I understand that. And hopefully over time they’ll see it, right? That’s the good thing about this game, is it always shows. I’ll be ready. I know what the expectations are for me and a lot of that stuff will play out on its own. I wouldn’t make a decision like that if I didn’t feel like I couldn’t come in there and help them. That’s something I thought through a lot before I made that decision [to come back].”