Jason Witten isn't "envisioning" Sunday's game against Washington being the final one of his NFL career; not because he doesn't think it's a possibility, but because it has little to do with the task at hand.
"It's another day," Witten said. "I have so much passion for this game and what it takes. I've approached it that way all season, and I'm not going to change that."
Witten certainly didn't deny that retirement is one of the choices he'll be facing when the season is done, but any legitimate acknowledgement of hanging up his cleats during the year could have led to the sort of dramatic and prolonged farewell of which he wants no part.
"I didn't want that mindset of, 'This is your last road game. This is your last home game. This your last Wednesday practice.'"
Witten's career has never been about empty statistics, and so he would never allow a game with potential playoff implications to be made about his own legacy.
"If I let my mind to start going down that route," Witten said, "I wouldn't doing myself or this football team any justice."
All that being said, Witten doesn't expect to linger on what he will do with his future.
"I think it will be a pretty quick decision," he said. He added that he still believes that he "can play at a high level."
It isn't the first time retirement has been on the horizon for Witten. When the Cowboys wrapped up the 2017 season, he didn't feel like it was all over for him.
"I didn't envision that being my last game, either," Witten remembered on Thursday.
Time would eventually prove him right. Although he announced his retirement following that season, after spending a year as a broadcaster for ESPN's Monday Night Football telecast, Witten returned to the Cowboys for the 2019 campaign.
Considering he spent a year away from the field, it was an impressive comeback for the future Hall of Famer. But he returned with hopes for a deep playoff run, which will only be possible now if the Cowboys win and the Eagles lose on Sunday.
"I was thinking about competing for a championship [when I decided to come out of retirement]," Witten said. "But I knew there was going to be hard times."
While Witten can't confirm when exactly his retirement will come, he is sure that he wants coaching in the NFL to be in his future.
"When I'm done playing that's something I'd like to do," he said. "I've spent my whole adulthood in pro football."