There is this hill in Elizabethton, Tenn. Well, there are many hills as the little town Jason Witten called home as a teenager sits in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The streets are more or less the track of a virtual roller coaster.
The hill is near the high school, even closer to the football field where his grandfather, Dave Rider, became a legend as the head coach. Spend a few days in the town and, make no mistake, almost to a person they will tell you that Jason is the second-most recognizable face around these parts behind his Pa-Paw.
Anyway, back to the hill. It’s ridiculously steep, almost nauseating to look at the top from the other end, which I did a few years back. Actually ran up it, and this was when I was running a lot, and well, let’s just say I was breathing like I had asthma and just smoked four packs of unfiltered cigarettes.
Starting in ninth grade, sometimes after practice, or even between double sessions in the heat of August, Jason and his older brother, Shawn, would sprint up and down the hill until one, or both of them, threw up.
When Jason Witten broke Michael Irvin’s team record for receiving yards Sunday night against the Giants, I thought about the hill. Not sure why, just what came to mind. Jason running up the hill, always pushing himself to whatever his limits are, and oftentimes, those are limitless.
Next week, Witten will break the team mark for most games played. And really, that’s going to be it in terms of records. There are none left to eclipse or he’s not breaking them, say, most touchdown receptions.