The NFL Honors were on television tonight. Awards given to the most deserving players in respective categories Dallas’ own Jason Witten won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. For those that don’t know this award is given annually to the NFL player who not only shows excellence on the field but class off the field as well. This award honors the player’s feats on the field of football as well as honoring them for their charity work off the field.
For those of you who missed this awards ceremony, you may have missed the back story on Jason Witten. Without going into much detail of Jason’s personal life, one of the charity works Jason does is his own foundation, the Jason Witten SCORE Foundation which was created to provide assistance and support to victims of domestic violence. As a child of a mother who suffered from domestic violence this is a program that is near and dear to his heart.
As I sat and watched the acceptance and back story to Witten’s success and much deserved recipient of the Walter Payton award I couldn’t help but think back on the previous off-season of the Dallas Cowboys. Lately, the news hasn’t been good coming out of Dallas when it comes to the players off the field habits. First there was the Dez Bryant issue, then the tragic death of Jerry Brown, Jr. In a drunk driving accident where teammate Josh Brent was driving the vehicle and the latest debacle of Jay Ratliff’s drunk driving incident.
Feb. 2, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA: Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (right) walks the red carpet with wife Michelle Witten prior to the Super Bowl XLVII NFL Honors award show at Mahalia Jackson Theater. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Now we all know the media loves to report the bad especially coming out of Dallas when it involves the Cowboys and we rarely hear of the good things players do off the field. With divorce rates high in the country, I’m sure a lot of these players came from broken homes. One of the issues that comes to the forefront of my mind is the Dez Bryant domestic issue this past season. Sitting there watching Witten talk about his childhood, coming from a broken home, reminded me of the excuses people used for Dez Bryant’s troubles. People used the excuses that “he came from a broken home” or “he had no role model growing up”, etc. Understandably, we are talking about two different personal lives and two different opportunities but they both were able to pull themselves out of bad at home lives and become great players on the field. The difference between these two men is their off-the-field behavior. The truth of the matter is the NFL is highly profiled and these players become role models to children, who like them, come from broken homes with no role models to guide them. Some children idolize NFL players and quite frankly some Dallas players need to realize that and stop their antics off the field.
The media always talks about no leader on the Dallas Cowboys but if actions speak louder than words, Jason Witten is an on the field and off the field leader. Other players on the Dallas Cowboys could take a few notes from Witten’s book of life and become the men they are capable of becoming off and on the field. They need to take notes on the class, hard work and determination that makes Dallas’ # 82 excellent on and off the field.
Once again, congratulations to Jason Witten for being award the honor of being the 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year.