FRISCO, Texas -- When former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter tweeted out a video of Jason Witten’s first career catch on Sept. 7, 2003, the 10-time Pro Bowl tight end replied with the simple answer:
I Right 142 Y basic https://t.co/TEGh3APQc0
— Jason Witten (@JasonWitten) January 4, 2017
Carter's initial tweet is gone, but that was the playcall in Bill Parcells’ system.
Since that reception, Witten has gone on to catch 1,088 more passes. He ranks first in team history and seventh in NFL history in catches.
What about the recall? The Cowboys haven’t run that offense since 2006. They have run a version of Jason Garrett’s since 2007. Yet Witten has pinpoint memory.
“You always remember those plays,” Witten said. “That’s the first catch I had. Of course you’re going to remember that play.”
Garrett wasn’t surprised. He can remember plays called when he was a player. In fact, the Cowboys have the same calls in their playbook now.
“The experiences the players have in games are very vivid. I think for a lot of guys they have really good memories about practice, about working out but games are to another level,” Garrett said. “Some guys probably have a mind that doesn’t remember any of those details. They might remember the bigger picture of things. But a lot of guys have a real clear and vivid memory of very specific things from games. They’re heightened emotional experiences, so I do think those experiences maybe stick with you more. The details of those experiences stick with you more.”
Witten caught 35 passes for 347 yards and a touchdown as a rookie. That 36-yarder came in Week 16 against the Giants.
“Zero empty, 62, F sluggo seam,” Witten said. “I ran a slant and go for a touchdown. You can pull it up. From Quincy, going into the far end zone at Texas Stadium. Ball was on about the 36-yard line going in. Quincy held it a little bit, rolled to the left, found me.”