Why Jason Witten made the right call to leave ESPN, return to Cowboys




The smartest willpower Jason Witten made all through his momentary TV career was ending it.

Witten shocked the sports activities actions media world Tuesday by saying he was quitting his job as lead analyst of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” to return to the Cowboys for a 16th NFL season. The trendy tight end did it in his typical, stand-up man development, stating, “This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt.”

MORE: Who will substitute Witten on MNF?

Serving as lead recreation analyst on “Monday Night Football” continues to be actually considered one of the primo jobs in sports activities actions. But when Witten seems to be like once more at this willpower only a few months from now, I don’t suppose he’ll regret it.

First, the 36-year-old was in no way going to escape the shadow of Tony Romo, his former quarterback and avenue roommate who grew to grow to be the toast of sports activities actions TV as lead recreation analyst for CBS Sports. Romo was a game-changer when he entered the broadcast gross sales area a 12 months sooner than Witten. He shortly has turn into the new John Madden, with many calling him the biggest analyst on TV, interval. Romo has a pure elan on TV that Witten merely would not possess. The earnest Witten bought right here off like a Boy Scout who studied too exhausting for the huge check out.

I don’t care how rather a lot recreation film Witten watched or what variety of simulated video video games he often called this offseason. He almost definitely was not going to match Romo, rather a lot a lot much less Cris Collinsworth of NBC or Troy Aikman of Fox, and he knew it.

Witten has hardly tasted failure, nonetheless he did on TV, and it wasn’t pretty.

MORE: Romo is impacting NFL analyst searches

Speaking of shadows, it might have been troublesome, if not inconceivable, for Witten to escape his harshest critics on social media.

Early on, Witten gave Twitter trolls a great deal of ammo, collectively together with his Norm Crobsy-like malapropisms (corresponding to Aaron Rodgers pulling a “rabbit out of his head”) and completely different on-air flubs. As the season continued, he obtained increased and rose to the occasion when ESPN had good video video games like the Rams’ 54-51 win over the Chiefs on Nov. 19.

But the hurt had been carried out. Ask Phil Simms, Mike Carey or Emmitt Smith — as quickly as the social media mob decides you stink on TV, they hound you until you each cease or flip the script, like Simms did by switching to “The NFL Today” studio.

Sure, you probably can stick it out for years and can be found out sturdy on the completely different facet. Kirk Herbstreit and completely different sports activities actions TV stars weren’t almost nearly as good in Year 1 as they’re right this second. But they didn’t have to address the blood-thirsty world of social media. Or the mounted stream of weblog postings/tales chronicling their every flub.

During a press conference remaining fall, I requested Witten straight about his on-air errors. Even his partner was ribbing him, well-known Witten, who tried to defuse critics by making gratifying of himself on Twitter.

But who really needs that aggravation? Does Witten really need to wade by way of the bile directed at him on social media because of he’s compelled to call canine video video games on “Monday Night Football?”

Maybe the MNF job simply is not all its cracked up to be. (That’s right, I discussed it.) After all, of us like Witten, Jon Gruden and Sean McDonough protect leaving skid-marks from the gross sales area. Witten was dealt with like a god as a participant in Dallas. He has been admired since school. Who needs to be a nationwide laughingstock?

Despite ESPN paying Witten a reported $4.5 million per 12 months, the neighborhood did not do its new star analyst any favors by sticking him in a three-person gross sales area with Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland. Maybe if Witten had additional time to talk about, he may need tossed off a number of of the play-calling predictions that made Romo appear to be a savant.

If so, that’s on ESPN, not him.

MORE: How ESPN can restore “Monday Night Football”

Witten is beloved by Cowboys proprietor Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett. He could be welcomed once more with loving arms by Dallas, the state of Texas and Cowboys followers nationwide. Even though he has misplaced a step, he is re-joining a Super Bowl contender that desires help at tight end. And down the avenue, Witten may merely slide right right into a worthwhile educating/entrance office publish with the Cowboys.

Witten discovered nothing can substitute the pleasure of the having fun with self-discipline or the brotherhood of the workforce. He ought to have succeeded on TV. Maybe he nonetheless can in the future. But it didn’t happen on “Monday Night Football,” and there’s no going once more.

Yes, Witten struggled making the transition to TV. So produce different all-time NFL greats.

Give Witten credit score rating for calling an audible when the play wasn’t working.




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