Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jason Witten: Cowboy for life

By all accounts, today's contract extension for Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is intended on making him a "Cowboy for life." Jerry Jones inked Witten to a five year, $37 million extension to keep a star on his helmet through 2017. In an era of free agency and no loyalty, this signing can provide a link to what the legendary Cowboys have in common: they spent the entirety of their careers in Dallas.

Emmitt's two years in Arizona notwithstanding, virtually every current member of the Ring of Honor was a Cowboy for life. No one in that group is thought of as anything other than a Dallas Cowboy. Seriously, who honestly even remembers where Tony Dorsett finished his career? (And if you say Denver, then you looked it up.)

Witten was a rookie with Dallas in Bill Parcell's first season as head coach in Dallas. Thank goodness. I'd hate to think what might have happened if he'd been subjected to even one season of the Campo regime. He has an opportunity not only eventually become to Cowboys all-time pass catcher but possibly the best tight end of all time (although Shannon Sharpe's three rings put him atop my list over Tony Gonzalez as it currently stands).

Not many guys on the current Cowboys roster have the making of "Ring of Honor" potential. If Demarcus Ware remains one of the top defenders in the league for another five seasons, sure. If Tony Romo wins a Super Bowl to put him past the "Danny White" level of Cowboys quarterback, of course. But other than Witten (and I suppose punter Mat McBriar), who else on this roster has excelled so consistently over the last decade?

Jason Witten may not ever win a ring, but he became a Cowboys immortal figure when he ran without a helmet down inside the Eagles five yard line back in 2007 during the Cowboys 13-3 season. He wasn't the reason the team lost to the Giants in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. He will one day go into the Ring of Honor in Cowboys Stadium as the first of this generations Cowboys -- perhaps the only representative of this generation's Cowboys barring magnificent success still to come.

A lot of times I worry when a player gets a big contract extension. How will it affect their on-field performance. It didn't seem to affect Romo (only his ability to stay healthy). But Witten represents a rare instance where I'm not concerned. I don't see him kicking his feet up because he's been paid. As a Cowboys fan, I look forward to seeing Witten play the entirety of his career with Dallas. Not because he's a "good guy," a great representative of this franchise, which he is, but because he's a damn good football player.

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