With all the focus around the National Football League being on off-field issues of some players and a growing public perception of the league that continues to paint some model citizens in a bad light, we figured it made sense to run a series of articles focusing on the good.
These are stories you won’t read on the front page of tabloid papers or websites. They won’t get a ton of play on television, and most of the media simply won’t focus on them.
It’s our goal here at Sportsnaut to focus on some of the good. In what will be a weekly series of articles from here on out, we focus on NFL players giving back.
We start with Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.
Witten is well-known in the Dallas area for his contributions off the field, and has been for some time. Just recently, the future Hall of Fame tight end was recognized on a national stage by winning the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which focuses on what players around the league do off the field.
In accepting this award, Witten had the following to say (via ESPNDallas.com).
I am extremely flattered to be chosen the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year from such an esteemed group of nominees,” Witten said in a statement. “I work hard every day not only to be a success on the football field and a credit to my team — but to be a good husband, father, son, grandson, teammate — to be the kind of man that is as respected as Walter Payton was.
In addition to running a football camp at the University of Tennessee, Witten also runs the SCORE Foundation, which focuses on helping those impacted by domestic violence. A recent segment on ESPN’s award-winning documentary series E:60 details Witten’s work in the community and how he was impacted by domestic violence growing up.
Five years ago, Witten started a program within his foundation called SCOREkeepers. This amazing piece of work places trained male mentors inside battered women’s shelters throughout Texas in order to help children understand how a man is supposed to act and, as Witten’s foundation states, “in an effort to break the cycle of violence that plagues families affected by abuse.”
Here’s a bit more about Witten from his foundation’s site.
In addition to his distinguished work in the battle against domestic violence, Witten also built a Jason Witten Learning Center, complete with a state-of-the-art recording studio, at the East Dallas Boys & Girls Club center in March 2008.
A month later, he dedicated another one at the Boys & Girls Club in his hometown of Elizabethton, Tenn. Then, he dedicated a third such center at the Halls/Powell Boys & Girls Club in Knoxville, Tenn., where he played college football at the University of Tennessee.
Before winning the Man of the Year award, Witten found himself honored by a couple other associations around the football world.
He earned the Home Depot Neighborhood MVP in 2008 and the Pro Football Weekly Humanitarian of the Year award in 2010.
A family man with a wife, Michelle, and two young boys, Witten displays what it means to be a role model at a time when it seems there are so few around the NFL. No wonder Witten is among the most respected football players in the NFL. He uses his personal experiences to make a difference in the lives of so many around Texas and the United States.
Photo: Fox Sports