Despite players like the Jets’ Sheldon Richardson bringing negative attention to the league, there is still a great deal of good in the league. One of the best resides in Dallas and proves you can still find role models in the NFL.
The NFL has been no stranger to controversy as of late.
While players in the past have been involved in many not-so-good things for the league, these days, incidents are magnified even more thanks to the rise of social media.
When a player does something bad, we will know about it. Instantly.
However, we’ve never had to give a second thought to Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten being involved in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Witten has been with the Cowboys since 2003, his only NFL team since starting his career in Arlington following an extremely successful four-year stretch at the University of Tennessee.
Witten is not constantly on Twitter spewing out words that will put him in hot water with his team or NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Witten is not hanging out with the wrong crowd.
Fortunately for Witten, he was given the right advice early on that has allowed him to take full advantage of the opportunity to be a stellar NFL player. Not all players get that advice, and for those that don’t, Witten is the type of player that they should try and emulate.
Of course, that has nothing to do with Witten’s behavior on the field. It’s all about his behavior off of it.
Witten was the winner of the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player’s volunteer and charity work. In 2013, he won the Bart Starr Award, which is given to a player that shows outstanding character both on and off the field.
One of the main reasons why he was able to win these types of awards was because of his initiative to create the SCORE Foundation, a framework that aims to provide help for those that have been affected in some way by situations of domestic violence. The goal of the foundation is to educate these individuals with ways that can help improve their lives, and stop the vicious cycle of domestic violence within their families.
The SCORE Foundation continues to receive high praise, and most importantly, change lives on a daily basis thanks to the hard work and effort that Witten has put into this program.
That’s not all Witten is doing, though. He’s also giving back in a way that directly relates to his path towards becoming one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game.
Each year, Witten provides a free football camp for kids, which has become one of the largest free football camps in the entire country. Witten is heavily involved in the operation of the camp, and also brings in college and NFL players to help give instruction to the the kids that attend.
He has also created two learning centers within the Boys and Girls Club in Dallas, making it just one more way that Witten is giving back to those that may not have otherwise had the same opportunity that he did to make something of himself.
So, to come full circle, Witten is someone that every young NFL talent should be watching.
Players that enter the league straight out of college don’t always have the awareness to make the right decisions upon dealing with their newfound fame.
And instead of becoming the next person in the seemingly growing line of NFL players to find themselves in trouble with the law, these young prospects would be better served trying to find ways to make the same sort of impact as Witten.
If that happened, there would certainly be much less negativity surrounding the NFL, and there would be much less drama scattered through the television and social media.
Our favorite professional athletes don’t always make the right choices once they take a step into the real world.
Luckily, there are players like Witten that remind us that plenty of good still exists in a league that sometimes shows us its bad side.
Photo Credit: Dave Boyd/AP