Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has been outspoken in his support against domestic violence.
He saw firsthand the effects it can have by growing up with an abusive father.
But Witten is willing to embrace the Dallas Cowboys’ signing of defensive end Greg Hardy, who has been slapped with a 10-game suspension by the NFL for a domestic violence incident in May 2014.
“Everybody knows [I’m against] domestic violence, that’s unwavering,” Witten said Sunday at his sixth annual Citi Jason Witten Football ProCamp at Argyle Liberty High School.
“But that guy [Hardy] is a teammate of mine, so I think you have to look at it from that standpoint.
“As [coach Jason Garrett] says, it’s our job to invite those guys in and create a standard of how we do things. I think he’s done a great job since he’s been here. It’s not my job to decide who comes in. I’m a tight end. But I’ve been really pleased how he’s approached it and how he goes to work and what kind of teammate he’s been.”
Witten went on to praise Hardy’s work ethic.
“The day he got suspended, he’s in there working out,” Witten said. “So I think that’s kind of the mentality he has, what kind of work ethic and what he’s trying to prove in Dallas.”
The Cowboys brought in Hardy to bolster their pass rush that totaled 28 sacks in the 2014 regular season. Hardy combined for 26 sacks in 2012-13, earning a Pro Bowl bid in 2013.
Hardy played in only one game last season, spending the final 15 games on the commissioner’s exempt list in the wake of the league’s crackdown on domestic violence issues.
The Cowboys rolled the dice by signing Hardy, but protected themselves as much as they could by structuring the deal with heavy bonuses based on games played and sacks.
That proved to help them out when Hardy got a longer-than-expected suspension from the NFL.
Hardy has appealed the suspension, and his case will be heard later this month. For now, Hardy is working out at the team’s facility and has partaken in Cowboys’ events such as their annual golf tournament last week.
“Our job is to welcome him and show him the way we do things and embrace him as a teammate,” Witten said. “He’s done everything that you want. He’s a hard worker. Obviously he’s a talented player. I think he’s learned a lot from what he’s gone through in the last year.”
Witten weighed in on several other topics as well:
▪ On Tony Romo: “I thought the last 12 months have been remarkable. Not playing well [in the season opener against San Francisco] and just coming back and going 16, 17 weeks strong and having his best year yet ... he worked his tail off and then played at a high level. His standard and his expectation for what he wants to do and achieve is so much higher than what any of us thinks. He’s constantly changing things to give himself an opportunity to be at his best. I think that’s what makes him so elite, how he’s approached it and he doesn’t listen to any of that other stuff.”
▪ On Dez Bryant missing off-season workouts: “You’d love to have Dez there. I think that would be great. Dez loves playing ball. He’s a great teammate. You miss him when he’s not out there because of the passion and the energy that he brings. He’s a tone setter. I think everybody understands the business side of that. If there’s one person who wants to be there playing catch and throwing and running and working out, it’s Dez. He’ll be there. He’s taking care of himself. He’s going to be ready. It’s just part of the business.”
▪ On his pitch to La’el Collins: “Oh, there wasn’t a whole lot to be said from our end. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to talk there. Mr. Jones was doing most of the talking. ... I was impressed how he handled himself that night, I was impressed how he handled himself the next day with [the media]. I think he’s really mature, really handled it like a pro.”
▪ On if the youth football camp helps keep him young: “This does. This stuff is great. I love playing football. I love the off-season. I love the studying, going through and watching the tape, the grind of the evaluation process and what you can do better. I enjoy that. Then have the opportunity to see the excitement during events like this, and obviously giving back to the community is huge part of that platform that I want to have as a player and as a person all into one and hopefully be a champion.”
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760