The Dallas Cowboys plucked Jon Kitna from his job as a high school math teacher and football coach, adding him as a backup quarterback and Tony Romo insurance policy on Tuesday.
The team will deposit a nice $53,000 check in Kitna’s account for a week’s work, but Kitna doesn’t plan to keep it. Instead, he told the Dallas Morning News he’d give it to Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., where he now works. At least that much about the Cowboys’ situation is clear. Although the team isn’t tipping its hand about whether Romo or Kyle Orton will start at quarterback Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, it appears likely to be Orton, with Kitna backing him up. Romo is still receiving treatment for a herniated disk and waiting for an epidural injection to kick in and take away the pain, but ESPN continues to stand by its report that Romo’s season is over, that he cannot play Sunday or, should the Cowboys win the NFC East, in the playoffs.
Kitna, 41, told the News that he had raised his hand to try to help the Cowboys on Tuesday morning, texting Coach Jason Garrett. Kitna spent 16 seasons in the NFL, playing for the Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions and, lastly, the Cowboys before retiring after the 2011 season.
“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,” said Kitna, who made three starts for the Cowboys when Romo was injured in 2010.
Class is in session at Lincoln again on Jan. 2, which could get interesting of the Cowboys beat the Eagles and earn a playoff berth. There’s no question, though, that Kitna will head back to the classroom and the coach’s office whenever his NFL duties end. A year ago, Les Carpenter profiled Kitna’s new life for Yahoo and wrote:
He doesn’t have to be here, of course. Sixteen years as an NFL quarterback brought him more than $20 million. It gave him big homes and nice cars. It allowed his wife Jennifer and three children to never need again. When he walked away from the Cowboys after the 2011 season, he could have gone to the golf course or the broadcast booth or even one of those sprawling high schools with a giant stadium in a suburb of Dallas if he only wanted to coach.
“I don’t think that’s what my purpose was,” Kitna says. “This is my challenge. This is what I was meant to do.”