Jon Witman and wife Michelle on his struggle with addictive opioid pain medications and their life now
Witman as a Nittany Lion in 1995 running against Ohio State.
In Part 1 of a wide-ranging interview with Jon Witman, the former Penn State fullback from the mid-‘90s spoke about his dying position and his distaste for finesse football, both at the college and NFL level where played six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Upon his retirement in 2002, a different life set in, one with which the York County native had trouble dealing. He missed his involvement with a game he loved and the teammates he loved as brothers.
And he hurt. Especially in his lower back and one ankle. A back-fusion surgery didn’t help. The pain persisted. That’s where we pick up Part 2.
A decade and a half of football, first at Eastern York High, then Penn State during the early ‘90s glory years, then a 6-year tenure with the Steelers, took its toll on Jon Witman’s body. He was used as a battering ram in offensive schemes that now seem archaic. He was essentially an offensive lineman stationed in the backfield, rarely carrying the ball, commonly leading feature backs such as Ki-Jana Carter and Jerome Bettis into the scrimmage maelstrom, human dynamite enlisted to blow holes in defenses through which they ran.
And it was not until Witman quit playing that the tolls began to pile up.
“My disc ended up shattering over time, just smushing,” Witman said recently. “I lost all fuction. The fluid between the discs was no more.”
And there began a battle with opioid pain medications that lasted for well over a decade.
As Witman and his wife Michelle tell it, he’s lucky to be alive. It has been anything but a straight line to his clean state for the past 16 months. And the specter of his addiction is never far from their door.
Witman (38) blocking for Jerome Bettis (36) with the Steelers.