Witten Speaks Out Against Domestic Violence

STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 28, 2014Josh Elliott interviewed Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten for tonight’s Week 4 edition of Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports. In addition to the two-part interview, tonight’s episode will preview the Sunday Night Football matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys, and include highlights, analysis and reaction to earlier Week 4 games.
Football Night airs each Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC, with Bob Costas hosting the program live from inside the stadium. He will be joined on site by Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth and sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, NBC NFL analyst Hines Ward, and NBC Sports commentator Elliott.
Dan Patrick co-hosts Football Night from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1, and is joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on and NBCSN, and Peter King of Sports Illustrated. Alex Flanagan will report from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on the Eagles-49ers game.
INTERVIEWS: Below are excerpts from Elliott’s interview with Witten. If used, please note the mandatory credit: “In an exclusive interview airing tonight on Football Night in America.”
Note: A core element of Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation is the prevention of domestic violence. In 2012, Witten was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, which is granted to the player who demonstrates outstanding contributions to society off-the-field while handling himself in an exemplary fashion in uniform. For more information on Witten’s foundation, click here
Elliott: What’s it been like to see the issue thrust to the forefront?
Witten: “It’s disappointing in general to see what has taken place in the NFL. Having said that, I think people are now becoming aware that this is something that has been going on for a long time, not just in the NFL, but on a bigger scale in our country. There are so many guys in the NFL that are doing so many good things. I’ve been fortunate to understand my story, and my path to where I am today, and realize you have a platform and opportunities and that you’re role models. That’s something you need to demand of yourself and demand of others to be on the outreach, and let people know that we can put a stop to this.”
Elliott: What more can we do?
Witten: “As athletes, in general, you’re big and you’re strong and have the opportunity to stop it. I look at my own life and my example. Now, I’m a father of three and I’ve put a stop to that, not being afraid to step out. We all make mistakes, I understand that, but there is a standard which we have to create and demand from each other that we can’t accept domestic violence in our country.”
Elliott: What do you think of the way the league has handled it, weathered it and looked ahead?
Witten: “They were all disappointed in the way it all went down in the last couple weeks. I thought Commissioner Goodell did a good job of standing up and owning it and saying ‘we made a mistake.’ I think as players, obviously mistakes were made. But, at the same time, you’re in the spotlight and you have an obligation and responsibility as athletes. These have been dark days for the NFL, but (it’s) a game we love and I think there’s a lot of integrity inside the NFL. Not only in the league office, but players and coaches across this country that understand and respect the opportunity that they have. This league will be fine because falling back on the shoulders of the integrity of the men that make this game what it is.”
On nearing 10,000 yards and becoming third TE ever to hit that mark: “I’m humbled just to hear that. You think of Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez, they’re two of the greatest ever to play the game. It’s a humbling experience to think when you come into the league that maybe one day you’d have a chance to join that group.”
On how important a Super Bowl is to him: “It’s everything. It’s what motivates me every day. You look back and say the last three years playing in Week 17 for the division and coming up short each year to a different divisional opponent – it’s tough…When you play for this franchise, they’re out to get you and they want to beat you. You have to be your best when your best is needed and that’s what we’re trying to create right now.”
On the motivation that comes from criticism: “I don’t think that people think we’re a very good football team. For us, after the last three years coming up short, there’s been a mindset of we haven’t played good enough at key times to win and compete.”