Another game, another record for Jason Witten.
The Dallas Cowboys tight end became the franchise’s leader in games played Sunday with his 225th, breaking a tie with Ed Jones (224).
That is another mark for Witten among the Cowboys’ greats. He went into Sunday’s game vs. the Broncos as the team’s career leader in yards (11,947), catches (1,096), starts (214) and consecutive starts (164).
“It’s certainly flown by,” Witten said earlier this week. “I think it’s been a collection of years on this journey. You continue to try to get better and better and better, stay focused on that and next thing you look up and you accomplish something like that. So many great football players come through this organization, the right type of guys, tough mentally and physically. To be able to reach something like that, I’m appreciative of it.”
The all-time games played record is special considering that Witten broke his jaw four games into his rookie season in 2003.
This is when he learned about the laws of then-coach Bill Parcells, who frequently said “football players play football in football season.”
After suffering the fractured jaw, a strength coach came into the locker room asking when Witten was coming back in.
Trainer Jim Maurer intervened and said Witten wasn’t coming back because he was going to the hospital for surgery and to have his jaw wired shut.
“I come back in a few days later, my mouth is swollen after the surgery and of course, Bill had the sweet potato baby food waiting for me cause the challenge was keeping your weight up,” Witten said. “I said you got to be kidding.’ And he was serious.”
Witten missed one game then and none since, though once he had to pull a fast one on Parcells to play.
“He wasn’t going to play me if I didn’t make weight,” Witten said. “He was so proud of me that I made weight and was going to get a chance to play. I think he was giving the sweet potato the credit. Little did he know there was a 5-pound weight in my pants. That was a gutsy move on my end as a 20-year-old kid to make that decision, but here I am 15 years later.”
Coach Jason Garrett marvels at what Witten has meant for the organization.
“You said it, there’s been such a great history here with the Cowboys,” Garrett said. “The greatest coaches, the greatest players and the greatest teams. The Cowboys have been a part of that for the last 58 years. Jason Witten fits into the conversation with all of those greats. He’s among the best who have ever played in this organization. It has a lot to do with his production over the last 15 years, it ranks among the best in the history of the National Football League. So there’s something to be said for that.
“But it has more to do with his approach each and every day and how he goes about it, the example he sets consistently day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out. He’s a great example for all of us.”
Denver won the game 42-17.