The city, in partnership with the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, will honor Elizabethton native and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten for his athletic accomplishments and philanthropy during an event on Friday, June 21 at 2 p.m.
The ceremony is free and open to the public and will be held at the Covered Bridge Festival main stage located on East Elk Avenue near the Soldiers’ Monument.
City officials will present Witten with a key to the city and unveil new signage in recognition of his success both on and off the field.
Witten, a 2000 alumnus of Elizabethton High School and former University of Tennessee star, has made a name for himself as one of the top tight ends in the NFL as well as one of the league's most generous players. In 10 seasons with the Cowboys, Witten has become the team’s all-time leader in receptions, set the NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end and made the Pro Bowl seven times.
But Witten isn’t just succeeding on the field. Through his charitable foundation, Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation, he has launched numerous outreach programs and funded several new building projects in Texas and Tennessee.
Locally, Witten hosts a free football camp for 1,200 kids each June. Now in its 11th year, the camp, one of the largest free football camps in America, is held at Elizabethton’s Dave Rider Field, which is named in honor of Witten’s grandfather.
Witten and his wife, Michelle, a registered nurse and also an Elizabethton native, funded the construction of a brand new Jason Witten-themed emergency waiting room at The Children’s Hospital at Johnson City Medical Center and the Jason Witten Learning Center at the Elizabethton Boys & Girls Club.
The NFL also has recognized the tight end’s off-the-field accomplishments.
Most recently, in 2012, he became the first player to win the Bart Starr Award and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in the same season. The Bart Starr Award is given to an NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is given in honor of a player’s volunteer and charity work in addition to excellence on the field.
Jason and Michelle Witten reside in Southlake, Texas, with their two sons, C.J. and Cooper, and a daughter, Landry.