Much has been made of the Dallas Cowboys signing Lincoln High School math teacher Jon Kitna out of retirement to figure into their quarterback puzzle against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Almost every reference has mentioned that the quarterback, who retired from the Cowboys after the 2011 season, will earn about $53,000 for his Christmas week’s work.
Only Kitna, 41, is not keeping the money. It didn’t come up in his Christmas Day media scrum in the locker room. But later, while relaxing on a locker room couch and reconnecting with radio play-by-play voice Brad Sham, Kitna said he would be donating his NFL check to his school. He also told several teammates.
Since retiring from the Cowboys, Kitna, who has 15 seasons and four teams on his NFL résumé, has taught math and coached football in his native Tacoma.
The Abes finished their season last month at 8-2 and won a share of the 3A Narrows League title with Timberline. That was up from 5-5 during Kitna’s first season.
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Kitna’s son Jordan, a sophomore, was his starting quarterback this season.
Kitna, the father of four, said he heard about Tony Romo’s back problem and texted Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on Tuesday morning, announcing his availability. A 30-minute phone call followed.
“I told Jason if he wants me or somebody to come in and call a play and be able to pull a play off if a bad situation happened, I would be willing to do that,” Kitna said.
Garrett, who worked out three other former NFL quarterbacks on Tuesday, opted, sight unseen, for Kitna, who knows how the Cowboys do things.
If Romo is unable to start, Kitna will back up Kyle Orton, who has been Romo’s little-used backup the past two seasons. At practice Wednesday, Kitna ran the scout team offense.
It’s something he had done for Lincoln.
“He said he would run scout team for the high school team and give them a really good look like he gave us great looks when he was here,” Garrett said. “So he’s a very active guy. He’s a mentally tough guy. And he’s certainly very young at heart. So it was good to have him back, good to have him back in the meetings, and (I’m) excited to see him practice today.”
Kitna has started 124 NFL games for Seattle, Cincinnati, Detroit and the Cowboys.
BELICHICK BASHES LIMITS
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick believes he knows why injuries are increasing in the NFL.
Belichick blames limits on offseason practices, including training camp, that comply with new NFL rules as the reason.
“I’m in favor of total preparation for the players for the season,” Belichick said. “And I think that’s been changed significantly and, I would say, not necessarily for the better when you look at the injury numbers.”
NFL mandates on practice restrictions were put in place after a labor deal in 2011 that ended an offseason lockout. There are no longer two-a-days during training camp, the number of days in pads is limited, and offseason team activity was trimmed from 14 weeks to nine weeks.
“Personally, I think that’s taking the wrong approach,” Belichick said. “You have a gap between preparation and competition level. And I think that’s where you see a lot of injuries occurring.”
Statistics point to injuries being on the rise leaguewide during the past 15 years.
The Denver Broncos got their three “W’s” back at practice on Christmas Day — Wes Welker (concussion), Derek Wolfe (seizure) and Kayvon Webster (thumb). But it’s unlikely Welker and Wolfe will play against Oakland on Sunday. Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb) will miss Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears for the NFC North title. New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin gave his most definitive answer yet that he expects to be back in 2014. He was asked if he still has passion for the game, even after a season in which the Giants have underwhelmed and could finish 6-10. “Sure. Absolutely,” he said. “I mean, probably even more because there are a lot of those that are telling you that you didn’t do very well and you’re not a very good coach and you’re not this and you’re not that, so perhaps you have something to prove.” Adrian Peterson (groin, foot) said he wants to play in the Minnesota Vikings’ regular season finale Sunday against the Detroit Lions, even though he is “not as healthy as I would like.” The Lions placed tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) on injured reserve, ending his season.