For the second straight year, ESPN’s lead analyst from the Monday Night Football broadcast is leaving the booth to return to a job with an NFL team.
Jon Gruden left for the Raiders head coaching gig last year, but that pales in comparison to the stunning news that dropped Thursday that Jason Witten is returning to the Cowboys to play tight end for them once again. Witten retired after the 2017 season, but apparently being in the booth and around the game each week brought back the itch to play, with Dallas happy to scratch that itch.
“The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong,” Witten said in a statement. “This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt.”
The 2019 season will be Witten’s 16th season in the NFL, all of which have come with the Cowboys. As for his exit from the Monday Night Football broadcast, you’ll be hard pressed to find many who are too broken up about his departure. Witten’s first season was, well, rough to put it nicely as he just never seemed comfortable in the setting and being on air.
As for what ESPN will do next, one would assume Booger McFarland, who was excellent this season, will move into the booth full time (RIP the Boogermobile), but whether they bring in another third member to the broadcast remains to be seen.