The Dallas Cowboys certainly said goodbye to an era last Thursday. But Jason Witten’s retirement is another sign of progress at The Star.
Admit it, you shed a manly tear last week. You made the mistake of streaming the Jason Witten retirement press conference at your job. You felt a warm fuzzy as Dallas Cowboys’ dignitaries heaped deserved praise upon Mr. Cowboy 2.0. And boy, did it get a little dusty in the room when head coach Jason Garrett took the mic and talked about the Y Option. Say what you will about him, but that was one of the more powerful sports anecdotes I can ever remember.
Sure, it stings a little. Jason Witten is the last of the old guard to say goodbye. It wasn’t supposed to end this way. Witten, Tony Romo, and Dez Bryant were supposed to leave as decorated champions. Of course, we all know how it ended. That’s what made Witten’s farewell so bittersweet. He conducted himself like a champion should. He set the bar.
So while the immediacy of his announcement sets in and wears off, it’s time to take stock of the situation. No one seems to be talking much about it, but be it personal decisions or calculated personnel moves, recent developments at The Star suggest that a certain owner/general manager doesn’t hold the sway he once did. If you’re a realistic fan, this is highly encouraging.
Furthermore, moves like the Dez Bryant release and the Ryan Switzer trade suggest that the Dallas brain trust simply doesn’t get attached to their players the way they used to. As someone who has admittedly grown jaded by this behavior through the years, I have to say I’m intrigued at the very least. I haven’t seen this level of clinical decision making in quite some time.
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Now that’s not to say that Witten wouldn’t have been welcomed back had he chosen to return for another season. The job was most likely his until he simply didn’t want it anymore. It is a bit of good fortune that he decided to collect his future millions from the comfort of the broadcast booth instead of the brutality of an NFL season. The truth of the matter is his iron man tendencies more or less hamstrung this team’s ability to develop an heir apparent at that position. Up until his retirement speech, it was definitely a gorilla in the room no one wanted to talk about. Now we can move on without anyone’s feelings getting hurt.
Make no mistake, this franchise’s future is now. Last year’s disappointment notwithstanding, this team still won nine games. Their best player–Ezekiel Elliott–missed almost forty percent of the season due to his own misgivings. It will always be something with that kid, but if he keeps his nose clean, the sky is still the limit for the Cowboys. Plus, Witten’s departure now forces the coaching department to get resourceful. Necessity is the mother of invention, so let’s see how they adjust to losing their future Hall of Famer. I think we have the potential to be pleasantly surprised.
Sure, a part of the Dallas Cowboys died last Thursday. But that’s part of the circle of life in the NFL. Some stories don’t end happily ever after, but in this case, it does ride off into the sunset with a hero’s farewell. That’s all we can ask for, really. By all outward appearances, Jason Witten walked away on his own terms, legacy forever intact. It’s an ending befitting the consummate Cowboy.