I’m torn between thinking Jason Witten got fired (or was about to get fired) and used this “unretiring” as an excuse to save face, or maybe thinking that Jason Witten never wanted to be in the booth anyway and realized his mistake.

It makes sense both ways. Might even be a little of both. Witten had what nobody would classify as a good booth debut this season doing color commentary for MNF. He was boring at his best, spouting typical useless color fluff. He was awful at worst. He’d leave sentences trailing off halfway through. He’d try to use a cliche line and fuck it up. He had no idea how to properly end a thought and follow the flow of conversation. It was bad. I think if he stuck with it he would have eventually gotten passable. I doubt he was ever going to be good, but he might have eventually reached the level of inoffensive. But he was the subject of extreme farce all season and mostly the focal point for the atrocity that was the MNF production. I thought Booger and his crane was worse, but Witten got most of the general blame. Booger was at least entertaining sometimes in a batshit kinda way.

ESPN has mostly publicly supported their own production but you had to think they’d noticed the ridicule. The jokes and criticism were endless. They had to make a change, but they had just committed to this monstrosity of a presentation style, so cutting it off would admit they fucked up and god forbid anyone admit that. So I think there is a decent chance Jason was “nudged” into doing something else, and he chose to go back to football itself. Now ESPN has to reformat the disaster broadcast, how fortunate for them. They’ll fuck it up.

The other possibility, which I’ve started leaning towards as I think about it more, is that Jason Witten never actually really wanted this gig but got sold into it by ESPN. You might remember that Jason Witten’s retirement last offseason was actually a sudden shock. The fact that he retired wasn’t particularly surprising; he was 35 and played like he was 40. Dude took a lot of punishment and was a HoF player, plus the Boys looked to be a few more years away from being genuine contenders. But the news kinda screwed over Dallas because it was right around draft time and they didn’t expect to go in needing a TE. The Eagles even ended up drafting the one they wanted just to be dicks.

Witten immediately revealed he was joining the MNF booth. I think ESPN had been working him for a few months. They saw the success of Romo and figured they could get that lightning in a bottle too. Witten is a personable, affable dude. They probably managed to sway the old beaten-up TE into realizing he might not get a better chance post-career than this. So Jason, even if he maybe didn’t want to stop playing, decided to make that call. WHOOPSIES FOR EVERYONE! ESPN should have probably gone after another QB like Cutler, going after a meathead TE was not the best choice. Witten is likeable but he’s not Tony Gonzales levels of charismatic. He came across like a meathead football boy trying to speak good. Because that’s what he was. He does not belong in the booth.

So with a disastrous stint behind him and the future looking bleaker, why not go back for that one more season? The Boys made positive moves and could compete this season if it pans out. That final year he still wanted to play? Now he can do it with a year of healing rest under his belt. I doubt he will be all that impressive at this late stage in life, but he’ll still probably torch the Giants for 200 yards on 3rd and long conversions.

Whenever it is, I look forward to his first good play when all of sports fans will collectively go “He pulled a rabbit out of his head!” and laugh like no one else made that joke. I’ll do it. I have no shame.