On Father’s Day, Cowboys TE Jason Witten reflects on his upbringing and what today means

Cowboys TE Jason Witten had a difficult upbringing, but he persevered (Associated Press)

Last week, I caught up with Cowboys TE Jason Witten before minicamp to offer a preview and talk about a few things. He was at a charity event for children, and it was billed as a pre-Father’s Day event. For Witten, I thought that was interesting.

Witten has been open in the past about his difficult upbringing, which included some troubling circumstances with his parents. His father was not around. Witten finally found stability living with his grandfather, but he has taken steps through his community work to help children who deal with domestic violence.

It’s fantastic that he’s open about his past and the tough time he had with his own father. (They now sound like they are working to repair the relationship.) Last week, I asked Witten about having an event themed for Father’s Day, given his circumstances.

Things that happen in your life kinda form who you are and what you stand for and believe in,” Witten told me. “And for me, I was fortunate the people came into my life when there were challenges going on and believed in me when nobody else did. Especially in Dallas, that’s basically what the (Boys & Girls) Club’s trying to do with these kids. I think any time you can bring the family and encourage them, especially the men, to be role models and be a great example to their kids, it’s kind of goes hand-in-hand (with Father’s Day) to be honest. Makes complete sense.”

Father’s Day is a celebration of your father. But for those without fathers, it can be a difficult day. I wondered how Witten, now a dad himself, views today.

How does he deal with Father’s Day?

Well, no question you’re thankful,” Witten continued. “It wasn’t the perfect path. There were many, many challenges along the way. I’m appreciative of what I learned. And really and truly, although there was a lot of hurting and challenges, I don’t think you’d really have it any other way. I’m a dad myself now and you appreciate that relationship and take it upon yourself to break that chain of the fatherlessness or being in-and-out of the home. For me, definitely, I learned a lot through it. My kids will benefit from it. In the situation I’m in now, events like this encourage not only the kids but also the dads and the people that are their guardians to break that chain as well. It is a unique way and day and obviously you envy those relationships. Especially being a boy and being an athlete, that’s something that you do envy. At the same time, I know that it allowed me to be in the situation I’m in now, and obviously there’s been a lot more been a lot more benefits because of the experience.”

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