ESPN has rounded out its new-look Monday Night Football broadcast booth.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Thursday, during a teary-eyed press conference at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. But while Witten will be walking away from the field, he revealed that he will join ESPN's primetime Monday night broadcasts as a color analyst for the upcoming NFL season.
While Witten's retirement was anticipated — as was his landing with ESPN — the longtime player reportedly changed his mind several times over the past week before eventually accepting the gig.
ESPN is revamping its Monday Night crew, as former color man John Gruden, whom Witten will replace, will return to the sidelines as the head coach for the Oakland Raiders. The network will also replace Gruden's play-by-play partner Sean McDonough with college football announcer Joe Tessitore. Witten, who said he did not anticipate retiring after the season ended, said joining ESPN was a "unique opportunity" that allows him to stay around the game.
This is the second straight offseason in which a Cowboys' star has left for the broadcast booth. Last year, Witten's longtime quarterback and friend Tony Romo signed a deal to call games for CBS alongside Jim Nantz.
Witten, who spent his entire 15-year career in Dallas, is widely considered to be one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. He made 11 Pro Bowls, and his 1,152 receptions ranks fourth all-time behind wide receivers Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald and fellow tight end Tony Gonzalez. During that 15-year span, Witten only missed one game: a single DNP during his rookie season.