"After much self-reflection, prayer and faith, I have decided the time has come for me to pass the torch and retire", Witten said.
During his retirement press conference on Thursday afternoon, Witten expressed his disappointment with not helping the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones win a Super Bowl, according to Drew Davidson of Star-Telegram. He last missed a game in 2003, his rookie season.
The Dallas Cowboys will never be in the market to replace Jason Witten.
Former quarterbacks Troy Aikman (FOX) and Tony Romo (CBS) are the lead analysts at their respective networks, and former fullback Daryl Johnston calls games on FOX as well.
"In those moments, those other things didn't exist", said Witten, set to call the Cowboys' home game against Tennessee on November 5. There's nobody I respect more as a person, as a football player than Jason Witten.
ESPN reportedly looked at several former players for the position.
In 2014, Romo said Witten "might be the best Cowboy of all time". "Disappointed we couldn't get it done this year". He never wanted the fame and attention that came with being a chiseled superstar on the most recognizable team in American sports. His 63 receptions and 560 receiving yards last season were each the second-fewest of his career.
And, of course, there was that time he ran 30 yards, helmetless, after getting popped on a fourth-quarter play against the Eagles in 2007.
After Cole Beasley muffed a punt in the final minutes of an October 25, 2015 loss in New York, Witten caught up to him walking off the field and put his arm around him as they exited the field to a chorus of hecklers. It was the sort of gesture usually reserved for retired players. He spent two seasons walking under it.
The stats Witten accumulated over his 15 years leave him atop not only Dallas's franchise leaderboard, but also among the NFL's greatest pass catchers of all-time.
On Wednesday, Cowboys' executive vice president Stephen Jones told reporters he felt the franchise did not have to pressure Witten into extending his career, insisting the team would support whichever decision the tight end took.