IRVING, Texas -- Ask Bill Parcells a question about Jason Witten and this is the first response you get:
"You mean everybody's all-American, blond-hair, blue-eyed boy wonder?” Parcells said.
Parcells was the Dallas Cowboys head coach when Witten was drafted in the third round in 2003. Witten still carries what Parcells taught him in the first four years of his career. It’s what has helped make him who he is as a 10-time Pro Bowl tight end.
On Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, Witten will set the Cowboys’ record for most consecutive games at 197, breaking the mark held by Bob Lilly since 1974.
Witten has missed only one game in his career, and that was because of a broken jaw suffered as a rookie. Once Parcells told him Mark Bavaro had the same injury and missed only one game, Witten was hell-bent on making sure he missed just one game.
“Hey, I had one that did that before him, so I’m not bragging about that stuff,” Parcells said. “I’m just telling you the tough guys are tough guys. They find a way to do things.”
Parcells and Witten still talk from time to time. The Hall of Fame coach is a valuable resource to Witten. For Parcells, Witten is among his favorite players.
“Listen, durability in this business is invaluable,” Parcells said. “You can’t put a price on durability. And there’s only a few players that can be that way. You know I’m a baseball fan, and now you go back and look at [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine and those pitchers for the Braves. They didn’t hardly miss any starts in their whole careers, you know what I mean? They didn’t hardly miss anything. And durability is such a commodity. You can’t explain it. There are players with great talent, but they can’t stay out there. And there are players with less talent that are always there and produce for you.
“And there’s these with great talent and are always there, and those are the special players. That’s why this kid is going to the Hall of Fame. I think he is. I don’t see how they can keep him out.”