Jason Witten announces retirement after 15 seasons with the Cowboys

Jason Witten has announced his retirement after 15 seasons in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys.

The tight end took over 15 minutes to reach the podium at a retirement news conference after being met by a group of Cowboys coaches and players after entering Dallas' facility with his family.

Witten exchanged handshakes and greetings with the large group, which included star running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott, as he walked down a hallway toward the stage.

 "After much self-reflection, prayer and faith, I have decided the time has come for me to pass the torch and retire," Witten said.

Witten was selected in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Cowboys and spent his entire career in Dallas.

"It brings a certainty of pride and honour, the type of certainty that comes once in a lifetime, to be a Dallas Cowboy," he added.

Witten caught 1,152 passes for 12,448 yards and 68 touchdowns in his career, making 11 Pro Bowls, and he hopes to be remembered as a role model on and off the field.

"To all the young players and coaches out there, I hope that I showed you that yes you can do things the right way" he said. 

"I was never the most talented or flashiest. I relied on grit. Other players may have been more talented, but I assure you, no one was going to outwork me."

Witten made six playoff appearances with Dallas but never advanced past the divisional round. He said he hoped he had not let down long-time Cowboys owner Jerry Jones by not winning a Super Bowl.

"Jerry you have been a father figure to me for most of my life," Witten said to Jones. "The last few days have been challenging for me. The hardest part of this decision was knowing that I would not hand you that Lombardi Trophy."

Jones praised Witten for the character and commitment he demonstrated throughout his career.

"Of all the people I have met from being in the NFL, Jason Witten is in the top five as a man," Jones said.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said that Witten has set an example for all past, current and future Dallas players.

"He is simply the best example of what you want a football player and person to be, on and off the field," said Garrett, who has coached Witten the past eight seasons. 

"Witten is the standard as a football player and a person... until the end of time."

Witten will now reportedly become an analyst for ESPN on Monday Night Football. He said he is ready for the opportunities he will have post retirement.

"I'm excited for the next chapter of my life," Witten said.

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