Raiders tight end Jason Witten broke an NFL record by merely being on the field Sunday.
With the first snap against the Broncos, the former Cowboys star set a record for most games played by a tight end with his 271st, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez.
Witten, who said he hasn’t yet decided if he’ll return for his 18th NFL season, has been a valuable locker room presence for the Raiders, but he came into the regular-season finale with just 13 catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
“I was taught by Bill Parcells, he drafted me there in Dallas. He taught me early on, reliability, dependability, consistency, that’s how you make it in this game. Those are traits that I’ve kept near and dear to me for my entire career,” Witten said this week. “To have an opportunity like this fits the way I tried to play. … I learned early on as a rookie from a legendary coach was to be dependable, consistent, be reliable, and to have this moment this many years later I think it will be pretty special for me and my family.”
While Witten broke Gonzalez’s old record for games played, he won’t likely catch the former Cal star’s tight end record of 15,127 career yards receiving. Witten entered play Sunday at No. 2 with 13,046 receiving yards on 1,228 catches, fourth overall in NFL history and also second all-time to Gonzalez’s tight end record of 1,325.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden helped convince the 38-year-old to sign with the Silver & Black after 16 seasons in Dallas.
“It’s a shame you guys didn’t get to see him every day. He’s been great. He’s been great for the tight ends, been great for me, been great for our offense,” Gruden told reporters earlier in the week. “Unfortunately we haven’t had a lot of team gatherings, team meals, team meetings because of the protocols and the quarantines and all that stuff. But he’s had a real impact on our guys.
“His preparation, his focus, his desire, we just talked bout it with Tim Brown and Darren Waller, he’s one of the great war daddies of all time. He’s going to break Tony Gonzalez’s record on Sunday and it’s great to be