Entering his ninth season in the NFL, Jason Witten is one of the top tight ends in the NFL and one of the most prolific pass-catchers in Cowboys history. A seven-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time NFL all-pro, Witten's 617 career receptions are the most ever among Cowboys tight ends, and the second-most in club history. His 6,967 career receiving yards is also a team record for tight ends, and that mark ranks him fifth among all-time Cowboys receivers. He could conceivably move to second on that list by the end of the 2011 season.
Hailing from Elizabethton, Tenn., Witten is known nearly as well for his extensive charity work off the field as for his accomplishments on the gridiron. Jason and his wife Michelle, who is an emergency room nurse at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, started Jason Witten's SCORE Foundation in 2007, and it has rapidly become one of the largest and most impactful foundations among NFL players. His foundation's work against domestic violence and to promote education in Texas and Tennessee made him a finalist for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2007, won him the Home Depot Neighborhood MVP in 2008 and the Pro Football Weekly Humanitarian of the Year award in 2010.
After a stellar career as a linebacker and tight end at Elizabethton High School, in which he was a consensus High School All-American selection and the USA Today Tennessee Player of the Year as a senior, Witten played his college ball at the University of Tennessee.
Playing for Vols head coach Phil Fulmer, Jason made the move from defense to tight end and became one of the most prolific receiving tight ends in school history. As a junior, he set single-season school receiving records for a tight end in receptions (39) and receiving yards (493) with five touchdowns. One of those scores was the dramatic game-winning TD catch that finished off Tennessee's six-overtime victory against Arkansas. Despite leaving after his junior season, Witten still compiled 68 catches and 797 receiving yards in his career with the Vols.
Witten was selected in the third round (69th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, and made an immediate impact by helping the team reach the playoffs. He caught 35 passes as a rookie and quickly earned a reputation for toughness for missing only one game after suffering a broken jawbone.
By his second season, Jason became well known as one of the top players at his position, and earned the first of five consecutive Pro Bowl selections. He led the Cowboys and all NFC tight ends with 87 catches in 2004.
Over the next several years, Witten continued to emerge as one of the NFL's top tight ends of all time. In 2010, he caught 94 passes (marking the third time in four years he surpassed the 90-catch mark), notched 1,002 receiving yards (also the third time in four seasons he went over 1,000 yards) and a career-high nine touchdowns. He has now posted four consecutive seasons with more than 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards. He was named first-team All-Pro for the second time after the 2010 season.
In addition to being named as the Dallas Cowboys Man of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2010, he was named "Howie Long's Toughest Man in the NFL" following the 2007 season, due in part to his legendary run downfield at Philadelphia after getting his helmet knocked off by a would-be tackler.
Witten and his wife Michelle live in the Dallas area with their two sons, C.J. and Cooper.
Jason and his foundation launched the Jason Witten SCOREkeepers program, which places positive male mentors on staff at six different family abuse shelters across Texas, in 2008. The foundation also opened Jason Witten Learning Centers at Boys & Girls Clubs centers in East Dallas and his hometown of Elizabethton, Tenn. Jason and Michelle also dedicated the Jason Witten Emergency Waiting Room at the brand new Niswonger Children's Hospital in Johnson City, Tenn., in 2008. In addition, the foundation also operates a youth wellness program called "Play.Move.SCORE" at Boys & Girls Clubs in Dallas and Fort Worth.
The annual Jason Witten Football Camp, held each June in Elizabethton, has become one of the nation's largest free football camps. The ninth annual camp, held this past June, saw more than 1,000 kids from Tennessee and several surrounding states take part. Jason also presents two Jason Witten Scholarships for $5,000 a piece each year to two deserving high school athletes in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.