LANDOVER, Md. -- As Jason Witten walked his way out of FedEx Field, he couldn’t see his family behind the throng of Dallas Cowboys cheering for him after the 19-16 win against the Washington Redskins.
In the distance, a relative lifted his son C.J. over the crowd and a big smile crossed the tight end’s face.
Witten made history Monday, becoming just the 12th player to record 1,000 catches. Most importantly to Witten was the Cowboys won the game. A close second was sharing the moment with his family.
His sons, C.J. and Cooper, and his wife, Michelle were in attendance. So were his mother, Kimberly and his older brothers, Ryan and Shawn. Some other family and friends from Elizabethton, Tennessee, made the trip as well.
"It’s awesome that they wanted to experience that and they wanted to be here," Witten said. "I don’t want to minimize it. I feel like I’m so in the zone and focused on helping our team win, but along the way I don’t want to minimize it, because my family is a huge part of it and my kids. I’m just glad they were here."
Witten finished with five catches for 45 yards to give him 1,003. He is just the second tight end in NFL history to reach the mark, joining Tony Gonzalez.
To reach 1,000 catches, Witten caught a 7-yard pass on second-and-6 in the second quarter from Matt Cassel.
"First down," Witten said. "That’s it. It’s a very unassuming play. I’m just so grateful to join the group."
The Cowboys' equipment staff was able to get the football for Witten as a keepsake.
"When you are struggling on offense to get things started you need to have a guy you can go to," coach Jason Garrett said. "If you look back at his career, he’s been the go-to guy for this football team week in and week out. I think he got us going and got us into a rhythm. Matt loves throwing it to him. Typical Witten night: not overly flashy and had a big impact on the football game."
After the game, Witten’s teammates congratulated and lauded him. Dez Bryant called him a Hall of Famer, saying he and his teammates have learned a lot from him. Cassel called him one of the best leaders he has ever seen.
"I’ve never been around a guy with such character and class," Cassel said. "He brings it each and every day with a purpose. He deserves everything he gets, because he’s worked his butt off."
Witten was able to catch a private moment of sorts with his family as they got closer to the barrier near the team buses. He leaned in for kisses and hugs from his boys and wife. He gave his brother a high five.
"What I liked was that he had that family there," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "They were there to watch their dad. It was a great feeling to see those kids. Jason Witten, of all the people I’ve met since I’ve been in the NFL: players, commissioners, owners, coaches, he’s in the top five of all the people I’ve met in the NFL. He’s an outstanding individual."