Jason Witten’s name will be attached to the new Collegiate Man of the Year award, the first honor of its kind. The award recognizes college football players who demonstrate exemplary leadership and character both on and off the field. The inaugural winner will be announced at the conclusion of the 2017 college football season and presented at a banquet in February at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Having Witten’s name on this award sets a high standard of integrity and commitment for collegiate athletes. Not just to the game, but to community and family – all of which Witten has demonstrated in his 15-year NFL career.
The 10-time Pro Bowl tight end has worked to be and lead the best at both the collegiate level with the University of Tennessee and professionally with the Cowboys. In addition to being named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2012, Witten has earned several honors that recognize his work and leadership in the community.
But before Witten was the man he is today, he was a young boy who had faced critical obstacles in his personal life, like many collegiate athletes do today. He saw domestic violence first hand, growing up with a verbally and physically abusive father in Virginia. At the age of 11, his mother fled to Tennessee with him and his two older brothers to live with her father and legendary high school football coach Dave Rider.
“The things I learned early on from my granddad, the things he instilled in me, are still to this day a huge part and a huge priority of my own life,” Witten said to ESPN.com. “Even the little stuff like my granddad always telling me to tuck in my shirt at church. It sticks with you. Because now I find myself telling my own kids to tuck in their shirts on our way into church. And when I think about this game, it means so much more to me knowing that I’m representing a lot more than just myself out there.”
To give back to those who are now in the shoes he once wore, Witten founded the SCORE Foundation. His charity is dedicated to connecting male role models to victims of domestic violence in an effort to show children positive behavior and break the cycle that often plagues families affected by this abuse.
It’s no question. Witten is a model player and human being, and Cowboys Nation is fortunate to have his light shine for the team and the NFL, all things considered.
Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer of the Cowboys, Charlotte Jones Anderson perfectly sums up Witten’s latest honor in this quote:
“There is no more appropriate person in our sport – at any level – to have his name associated with an award that represents character, dignity, service to others and responsibility than Jason Witten. This award will honor the standard that Jason has set for leadership, both on and off the field, and it will serve as an inspiration to football players for generations to come.