Cowboys star Jason Witten shares childhood trauma in E:60 profile

Reporter Jeremy Schaap discusses what viewers might take away from tonight’s E:60 Jason Witten profile:
“Long before domestic violence became a flashpoint for the NFL, Jason Witten knew first-hand the scope of the issue. He has committed himself to breaking the cycle of violence. Studies show that boys who are victims of domestic violence are twice as likely to become abusers themselves and Witten’s foundation connects victims with positive role models, such as himself, in an effort to demonstrate to children who’ve been victimized that there are adults who aren’t violent and who care about their well-being.

“His stature in the game certainly makes it easier to drive home that message. Witten has been one of the league’s most productive tight ends ever, and he’s widely regarded as a model teammate – and human being.”

As the Dallas Cowboys prepare to bring their league-leading 6-1 record into next week’s Monday Night Football game against the Washington Redskins (ESPN, Oct. 27, 8 p.m. ET), veteran All-Pro tight end Jason Witten also continues his commitment to another cause.

In tonight’s episode of E:60 (ESPN, 8 p.m.), the Cowboys star and team leader shares his personal experiences of domestic abuse and his fight to break the cycle through the work he’s doing with his SCORE foundation. Front Row shares some insight on the piece from E:60 feature producer Russ DiNallo.

How did the idea to profile Witten come about?
It’s something that has been in the works for the last couple of years and eventually pitched to his team. After agreeing to move forward this past winter, we started filming with Jason in late May at his home just outside Dallas, where we met his wife, Michelle, and their three kids. We then caught up with him again in late June in his hometown of Elizabethton, Tenn., and interviewed his brothers, mother and grandfather. [Note: E:60 also did a follow up interview with Witten two weeks ago to get his thoughts on the recent domestic violence issues in the NFL].

Aside from Witten, who was your most compelling interview?
Without a doubt, Jason’s grandfather, Dave Rider. A really interesting guy in his own right, who grew up (also fatherless) in West Virginia, went on to play college football at West Virginia University then became a coaching legend in Tennessee high school football. Some other interesting facts he shared included being childhood friends with Jerry West back in West Virginia, playing against Ernie Davis and Joe Paterno during his playing career and being recruited by Adolph Rupp to play basketball at Kentucky.