‘I get knocked down but I get up again, You’re never gonna keep me down’ -Tubthumping- by Chumbawamba
Most of us in Cowboys-Nation absolutely cannot wait until this Wednesday Sept. 5th. when our Dallas Cowboys play the SuperBowl Champion New York Giants at Metlife Stadium to open the 2012 NFL season. Now, if you can amp that feeling up about 10 times you’ll know how Jason Witten feels about that game.
Witten recently said that if he is cleared Tuesday, “we’re playing”. He was speaking of course about his lacerated spleen injury he suffered in the first pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders a few weeks ago and whether he has healed enough to play in the Giants game Wednesday. Lets repeat that… his lacerated spleen injury. Man, this guy is like a modern day Gladiator. A real man’s man.
Witten’s level of commitment and intestinal fortitude is completely foreign to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no wimp (depending on who you talk to), in fact I recently dealt with a particularly painful case of planter fasciitis. To heal properly I was determined not to run until healed, and I’m now carrying 30 extra pounds to prove it. Jason Witten on the other hand is a whole other level of Champion. He refuses to quit. He will not stay down.
In Witten’s rookie year, he fractured his jaw and missed just one game…one! Who can forget the Philadelphia Eagles game in 2007 when he got sandwiched between two defenders, his helmet popped off but he remained on his feet and kept running. The NFL had to change the rules after that so no other players could risk what could have been major injury (not 100%, but I think the play is now whistled dead once the player with the ball looses his helmet). I also remember a couple years ago where Witten got hit hard and they took him out for a play and he had to be restrained from taking out one of the trainers who was trying to hold him back from coming back into the game. It wasn’t the first time he had done that.
To be sure, I don’t think that Jason Witten puts his health or his future ahead of playing the game, which is admirable. Should he? Probably. But he doesn’t. That’s when the GM and the Head Coach have to step in. Jerry Jones may have been doing just that this weekend when he mentioned that perhaps it would be more prudent to wait til game 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, giving Witten much needed extra healing time. For me it’s a no-brainer. Jason Witten sits until the Seattle game, end of story. The Dallas Cowboys absolutely cannot risk Witten’s health, they need him for the season. He’s a core player, not adequately replaceable. Like Tony Romo or DeMarcus Ware. I would urge Witten to think about the risk and the whole season and just sit this game out… But, man do I respect his desire and drive.
Jason isn’t the only Dallas Cowboy that has that will, that ‘won’t stay down’ attitude. Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee have it. Jay Ratliff to some extent too. Romo played with broken ribs and a punctured lung last year. Ware proved he ‘won’t stay down’ the way he came back from a neck injury in 2009 (you can read more about that in Levi Glenn’s article ‘DeMarcus Ware Lays It Out’ right here in The Landry Hat), and Sean Lee played much of last year with a cast after he dislocated his wrist. Lee had suffered an injury the year before on the kick off of the season opener and didn’t tell the coaching staff. Looks like Sean Lee is going to be a lot like Jason Witten.
Even though it’s not a good idea to play in the condition that these guys have, you have to admire them for doing it. It wouldn’t hurt if more of the Cowboys players had the same ‘won’t stay down’ attitude. What ever you want to call it – mental toughness – battle hardened – Gladiator – or just plain stupid – That’s one of the qualities I want to see in a professional football player, in my Dallas Cowboys. - Artie Cappello