An open letter to Jason Witten from his Cowboys teammates

Editor's note: Several of Jason Witten's teammates wanted to express their gratitude to the retiring Dallas Cowboys tight end with an open letter. These are their words.

To 82,

We have two words: Thank you.

Thank you for setting the standard for us. Thank you for showing us the right way to go about it. Thank you for the incredible impact you made in football, but maybe more important in our lives. Thank you for being our conscience in tough times.

When we all came into the NFL we were looking for guidance. You were that guy. You had done it. You had breathed it. You had lived it. But what made it special is you gave us all you got.

On the field, you were there every day. We know you were hurting sometimes. Maybe a lot of times. And you showed us what being dependable was all about.

As a leader, you made sure not only to tell us, but show us. You molded us in a way to where we had to live to your standard.

We remember the first pat-and-go you did with Dak where the pass was just a little off and you didn’t extend your arms. You just kept on going. Dak realized right there in the NFL a couple of inches off makes the difference in winning and losing.

We saw you on the final day of camp in 2015 in a 7-on-7 drill. A lot of us were probably ready to get home from Oxnard, but you laid out for a pass from Tony Romo as if it was a Super Bowl. That showed us that there’s meaning in every practice, and to survive in this league, you have to act like the game could be taken away from you at any minute.

We celebrated in the end zone with you. There was nothing better. You punched us so hard we thought we were losing our breath. We’ll keep those memories with us forever.

We’ll also remember the pain. Not just the physical pain with the lacerated spleen, the sprained ligaments or the broken jaw. But we remember the emotional pain. The time in the locker after losing to Green Bay in the 2016 playoffs. We gave our hearts that day. None more than you.

We felt your pain because we know how much a championship meant to you and we wanted so badly to win one, not just for us, but for you. We will always carry that regret that we didn’t do enough for you to have that trophy in your hands.

But that pain will not be our lasting memory. We will remember the times you held court at the head of the table on those training camp nights, telling us story after story. You had us rolling. We will remember those speeches you gave us. Because of you, we know the secret is in the dirt.

This has been a strange week for us. We kept waiting to see your car in the front of the parking lot. We kept waiting to see you in the locker room or the weight room. We kept looking over to our left in the team meeting room and didn’t see you there.

We know these past few days have been difficult, but just know you will be with us as we look to bring a Super Bowl back to this franchise.

That’s our pledge to you.


Sean Lee, Zack Martin, Dak Prescott, Tyrone Crawford, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, DeMarcus Lawrence, Jeff Heath, Cole Beasley, Dan Bailey and Byron Jones