Jason Witten is leaving ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” booth and will return to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys as a player. Yeah, he’ll tight end once more.
“The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong,” Witten said in a statement released by his old/new team. “This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt.”
Jason Witten has decided to end his retirement and return to the #DallasCowboys for what will be his 16th season.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) February 28, 2019
Witten announced his now-first retirement on May 3, 2018, the same day he joined “Monday Night Football.”
“We thank Jason for his many contributions to ‘Monday Night Football’ and to ESPN over the past year and wish him continued success,” ESPN said in a statement. “We have seen many former coaches and players go into broadcasting before eventually returning to the game they love, so we understand Jason’s desire to return to the Dallas Cowboys. In the coming weeks we will determine our ‘MNF’ plans for the 2019 season.”
Though his former quarterback Tony Romo has become a star doing color commentary for CBS’ NFL games, reviews for Witten on “Monday Night Football” have not been as glowing. Witten was part of ESPN’s brand-new “MNF” broadcast team, which included play-by-play man Joe Tessitore and analyst Booger McFarland. The rookie team was subject to heavy criticism, with Witten, in particular, drawing the most ire.
“Monday Night Football” is coming off its strongest season in two years, wrapping up its 2018 campaign with an average viewership of 11.6 million over 17 games. That represented an eight percent lift from 2017 (10.8 million) as well as a two percent increase from 2016 (11.4 million).