Don’t Expect Retiring NFL Star Jason Witten to Return to ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” Booth

Witten was brutal serving as an analyst on "MNF" during the 2018 NFL season

Don't Expect Retiring NFL Star Jason Witten to Return "Monday Night Football"
Jason Witten looks on prior to a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Earlier this week, Jason Witten announced he would be retiring from the NFL after 17 seasons when his contract with the Las Vegas Raiders expires at the end of the league year in March.

Prior to officially putting in his paperwork with the league, the longtime Cowboy will sign a one-day contract with Dallas so he can retire as a member of the team that drafted him with the 69th pick of the third round back in 2003.

“As I hang it up, I walk away knowing that for 17 seasons I gave it my absolute all,” the 38-year-old told ESPN. “I am proud of my accomplishments as a football player on the field and the example I tried to set off of it. Football is a great game that has taught me many valuable lessons, and I look forward to passing on that knowledge to the next generation.”

One place where Witten will probably not have the chance to deliver that knowledge? The Monday Night Football booth.

If you recall, Witten first retired after the 2017 season and spent the 2018 NFL season working for ESPN in the MNF booth as an analyst. It did not go well … at all.

Though he must have done well at analyzing games during screen tests, Witten consistently struggled once the games were live and the lights were on. And, when he did, Twitter came after him like a defensive back with a bead on the ball.

In Witten’s defense, his broadcast partners Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland were also not very popular with the public, but the bulk of the mockery fell on his shoulders.

And, while he said the criticism didn’t influence his decision to put pads back on those shoulders and return to the NFL, he did acknowledge being a punching bag on Twitter was tough.

“Nobody’s immune to it, regardless of how much mental toughness you have. That was one of the things I kind of prided myself on as a player for 15 years. I could handle the big stage. Certainly, I took a beating. I’m aware of it,” Witten said on Ryen Russillo’s Dual Threat podcast in 2019. “I wasn’t immune to it. It sucked going through it at times.”

Luckily for Witten, he won’t have to go through it again as ESPN won’t be offering him an invitation to come back to the booth after his second retirement. Once was enough.

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