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Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Tight End Jason Witten Redefines Greatness

Tight End Jason Witten is catching passes at a historic rate, all under the long-revered trademark of the Dallas Cowboys and the iconic lone star worn on their helmets.

Jason says, “There’s tradition with the star. This is a team that was built on foundation, Tom Landry. The standard here is to be the best. In everything you do! On the field, but how you carry yourself off the field as well. The star is global and I think there’s some respect that comes with that in trying to be your best.”

The 13-year veteran is among the best! The ten-time pro-bowl player ranks second in all-time career receptions and receiving yards by an NFL tight end. Jason has become a cornerstone for the Cowboys franchise.

Jason believes, “wholeheartedly in the process of becoming great. Greatness is a characteristic that is not easy. Being a leader, a guy that can show it and demand it and set the standard everyday of what we want to accomplish, through success and also through adversity.”

Toughness has become his trademark! He’s the league’s all-time leader for consecutive starts by a tight end with a streak that began back in 2006, saying “God’s blessed me with that, being able to be mentally tough. And to control your thoughts and I believe in that. See through the dark days and God has shown me that in my own life. That’s not only how you play football, that’s how you live life.”

Surprisingly it’s an all-pro strength the tight end discovered the hard way - away from the football field – at home – as a boy – enduring the pain and consequence of domestic abuse.

Jason explains, “It impacted my childhood a lot. My mom was a strong woman to handle what she went through. It’s tough. My dad was somebody we loved, but on a handful of days it was your worst nightmare. The pain was deep. It was real. It was something we felt. Seeing others go through pain such as your mom. I can remember being in the bedroom and thinking ‘when is this gonna end?’”

It did when he was eleven. Jason’s mom left with her three sons to move in with her parents. His grandfather – Dave Rider - became his father figure. The legendary high school football coach was also the first to mentor Jason as a player.

Jason says, “They were just a great example in our life. What characteristics you want to have. More than that they were the ones that took us to church and led us to a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s what changed our life. We’re forever grateful for that.”

Gratitude that has turned toward giving and reaching thousands of lives! The Jason Witten SCORE Foundation provides support to individuals and assistance to families affected by abuse.

Jason says, “My support in stopping domestic violence is unwavering. And I think as athletes – I really believe big, strong physical men that have a national spotlight that’s our platform, that’s our duty to speak out.” He’s quick to describe the biggest challenge victims face, saying, “They feel like they’re hopeless. And they think something’s wrong with them. And why am I messed up? I just try to provide hope and say you are beautiful and you are smart. Provide avenues for these moms to get back on their feet. Encourage them that their families are going to be ok. And I think that comes with the perspective of knowing who Jesus Christ is. That He’s your savior and you have to have faith, that God’s grace is amazing.”

With it, Jason has learned to sidestep the trappings that come with resentment. He explains, “If I talk about my life and overcoming the obstacles I think it was truly finding forgiveness. It allows you to grow and move forward in your own life. So, if I didn’t have that I don’t think I’d be able to have the career I’ve had, the family I’ve had because there would have been a lot of resentment. It didn’t come easy. It took time. So I’m grateful I’m able to forgive. And the freedom that comes from that is an amazing feeling.”

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo supports his teammate, saying, “He’s a special player. Some people say it but don’t have the actions behind it and he does. And you know - we’re all given grace by the Lord – so, no one’s perfect but Jason’s about as close as I see, so, he’s awesome!” While this Cowboy great rides on to football success – the tight end who has overcome adversity - is redefining what greatness is.

Jason says, “To be able to see, truly understand redemption, you have to go through it! When you constantly go through your relationship with Jesus, you understand that He is the way. I think in my life the redemption part of it is able to say, ‘we went through it, we forgave’, and now look at our family, look at our life and the people we’re reaching. I think it’s always better to give! And have an understanding that’s what greatness is all about.”

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