Witten said his return to the NFL was not influenced by the comments.
Jason Witten admits it wasn't easy navigating through his rookie season as ESPN's lead Monday Night Football analyst.
In a conversation with Ryen Russillo on his podcast, "Dual Threat," Witten looked back on his broadcasting experience and the struggles he endured throughout. The now un-retired Cowboys tight end added that, while the decision to return to the field was not influenced by the criticism he received for his booth performances, it was at times difficult to hear.
"Nobody’s immune to it, regardless of how much mental toughness you have," Witten said. "That was one of the things I kind of prided myself on as a player 15 years. I could handle the big stage... Certainly, I took a beating. I’m aware of it. To say, ‘Hey, you didn’t pay attention to it.’ Bullsh--
"It sucked going through it at times," Witten added. "Once the narrative formed, I knew that it was going to be a long-game approach."
Witten was infamously known for making mistakes throughout the season, including calling Colts tight end Eric Ebron "Patrick Mahomes's guy all year" and breaking the Pro Bowl trophy.
Witten, who retired from the league last May, ultimately decided to rejoin the Cowboys for his 16th season. He signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the team.
Witten is ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,152 career receptions behind Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez and Larry Fitzgerald. His 12,448 receiving yards rank 21st in league record books, but second among tight ends behind only Gonzalez (15,127).