OXNARD, Calif. – Tony Romo and Jason Witten went through their first Cowboys training camp practice together in 2003. This is Camp No. 14.
For perspective, the next closest in tenure are Doug Free and Orlando Scandrick (Camp No. 9), followed by Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Barry Church (Camp No. 7).
Since 2003, Romo and Witten have practiced with hundreds of teammates, sat in hundreds of meetings, answered hundreds of questions about the team's expectations – and the proverbial "window" for a championship.
The grind never gets old.
"You appreciate it more," Romo said. "You love the competition. I know I love to compete and I love to see how good I can be. You're challenged in that every day and every year. For me it's about getting to a point where one day in your career you get to be that version you always wanted to be. But you've got to wear it out for years and then you've got to go accomplish your goals as a team. That's what we're trying to do."
Said Witten: "I'm fortunate to play this game. It's a special privilege, unique privilege to have this opportunity. I start from the beginning. I want to try to be the best, but you've got to go work at it. I want to win, I want to be a part of guys that have that shared commitment that I have and be a part of a team that we're proud to be a part of. I think that comes with work. This is an unbelievable opportunity to get back out there. I'm excited and get better and hopefully be able to contribute to our team."
Now that both are firmly entrenched in their 30s, does either ever show a hint that camp starts to wear on them?
"Never. And I say that with such sincerity," head coach Jason Garrett said. "Never. They love it. They're two of the best competitors I've ever been around in my life."