On Friday night, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will return to Oakland for the first time since what Wes Phillips simply refers to as “the play.”
“The play” came during the Cowboys preseason game against the Oakland Raiders last year, when Raiders’ linebacker Rolando McLain hit Witten awkwardly, leaving Witten--unbeknownst to him at the time--with a lacerated spleen.
Witten bounced back from the injury in time for the season opening win over the Giants and went on to set new records for receptions by a tight end in a game (18) and receptions by a tight end in a season (110), on his way to an 8th Pro Bowl nod.
But it’s Witten’s toughness more than any statistical achievement that has impressed head coach Jason Garrett through their years together.
“We stood right outside that cafeteria about three minutes after he heard the news about what it actually was,” Garrett said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He said, ‘I’m playing in that Giant game.’ I just looked at him and said, ‘What are you going to do the next couple of weeks?’ He said, ‘I have to be motionless in my bed for two weeks.’ I was like, ‘Huh, this will be interesting timing.’
“But he’s an amazing guy. Forget 110 catches. Forget eight-time Pro Bowl. Forget all that stuff. When you tell the Witten story, I start with that one because I think he showed what he’s all about and what he’s been doing for a long time in this league. I think it’s a great example for the rest of our football team and really for the rest of humanity in the whole NFL. That’s how you do it. He’s really a tough guy, an amazing guy, and we’re lucky to have him.”
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