Cowboys' Witten: "You play to compete for championships"

Talk of Fame Network

Dallas tight end Jason Witten has more catches for more yards than any tight end not named Tony Gonzalez, and when he reaches 1,000 career receptions sometime next year he'll pass Hall-of-Famers Art Monk and Andre Reed, as well as Hall-of-Fame candidates Torry Holt and Randy Moss. He's been named to nine Pro Bowls. He's been a six-time All-Pro. He's a member of the 10,000-yard club. And he ranks 16th on the all-time receiving list -- regardless of position.

So what's missing? Championships, and it's something that Witten said drives him daily.

"It's everything," he told the Talk of Fame Network's weekly radio program. "When you think about my career and the catches and the yards, (as well as) going into the group I'm in and joined ... it's definitely a humbling experience and honor to be mentioned with those Hall-of-Fame players. But you play to compete for championships.

"I think the greatest way to evaluate football players -- and really good football players -- is to see how they play in big moments. So, I take a lot of pride in that and it motivates me every day. That's what you dreamed of doing and what you worked for every day for so many years-- to get other players to raise their level of play.

"You look at Peyton Manning, and the best thing he does is make everyone around him better. That's the ultimate sign of a great football player, a great leader and a great competitor. It would be huge for our legacy, and that's what we're working for every day."

Witten's legacy won't include only prodigious passing numbers; it will portray him as a complete tight end, someone able to make the third-down catch as well as throw the block to spring DeMarco Murray. That's important to him, too, and while it may not put a ring on his finger it could make him a serious Hall-of-Fame candidate.

"I've always challenged myself to be a complete tight tend, being a guy who doesn’t come off the field and is not a liability in pass protection or the run game," he said. "There's no stat that goes with that; (it's) just being that type of player. You want other people to respect you, not just for running the seam route but for also making big blocks and doing things when you don’t have the ball in your hands.

"Obviously, when you're running the ball the way we are and (with a) play-action game, your opportunities are different than what they've been in the past ... (But) I not only can convert on third downs and make big plays in the passing game, but I can set the edge. And we can run behind me -- not only to get productive yards, but also to say, 'Hey, that's where we want to go.'

"In the Jacksonville game, it's something I took a lot of pride in, saying, 'Hey, some of those big runs came off my blocks.' When you're able to do that, it's very fulfilling."