The word is not official, but ESPN reported Friday that Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten plans to retire after the 2018 season.
ESPN said he would join the network’s flagship football broadcast, Monday Night Football as an analyst.
Witten is a native of Elizabethton, where it’s no shock to see people wearing Cowboys jerseys, usually #82 for Witten.
Before he was a star in Texas, Witten was a Cyclone at Elizabethton High School, where his football career began.
On the side on the roads in Elizabethton, there are signs that read “Home of Jason Witten,” a town where a nationally known football star is known by friends and family as Jason.
Former High School Principal Ed Alexander said he watched Witten grow up and mature.
“Well seeing him in the hallways, it was easy to spot him because he was so tall,” Alexander said. “He had an excellent relationship with his peers and the faculty and staff.”
Manager Ryan Buchanan at Hibbett Sports said he can never keep Witten’s jerseys on the shelves.
“I feel like a lot of kids that come in here want to be the next Jason Witten, the next hometown kid,” Buchanan said.
In Elizabethton, Witten is known more than a professional football player.
At the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton Carter County, Resource Development and Marketing Director Elizabeth Williams said he’s had a meaningful impact on their program.
“The club was a big part of his life and he’s continued to give back to the Boys & Girls Club ever since,” Williams said.
Last year Witten gave a $25,000 check to the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton Carter County through his Score Foundation.
“I think he’s a great example, not only of a professional that we want to be like but also a person,” Williams said. “He’s never forgot about Elizabethton, he’s never forgot about the kids here, he’s never forgot to give back.”
Buchanan said most of the people in the Elizabethton area are Dallas Cowboys fans.
“When I ask why it’s usually because of Jason Witten and the role he play on the field and off the field as well,” Buchanan said.
Fans in Elizabethton said whether Witten is on the field as a tight end or in the studio as a analyst next season, they plan to cheer him on.
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