TACOMA, Wash. - The timing was perfect for Jon Kitna to come out of retirement to be the backup quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. He was already off for his new day job.
Lincoln High School in Tacoma is on Christmas break. But it’s the school that will benefit the most from Kitna’s weekend in Dallas. He’s donating his $53,000 game check to the school.
The Cowboys’ starting quarterback Tony Romo underwent back surgery on Friday. And that left the team in need of a backup quarterback for Sunday’s game, which will determine whether the Cowboys make the playoffs. So they called up 41-year-old Jon Kitna who retired two years ago and has been teaching and coaching football at Lincoln High School.
If you think Kitna will struggle getting back into NFL shape, you need to talk to the staff at Lincoln High.
“He lifts every day, he throws the football with his son, and he runs the scout team in practice,” said Principal Pat Erwin.
Kitna recently played in a flag football game with fellow teachers and coaches.
“I didn't want him to throw me the ball, he's throwing it a little too hard,” said Jamila Jones.
“He's still got it and more,” said Brandon Ervin.
Kitna’s generosity to Lincoln High School is nothing new. He paid $150,000 to turn the outdated weight room into one that many college athletic programs would envy. Kitna had always said he wanted to go back to the school he graduated from in 1991.
“Feel like that's what the Lord's mission is for me and my wife is to be at this school training these young men to be REAL men,” Kitna said from the Dallas Cowboys locker room.
When he says “REAL” men he’s referencing the acronym of what he’s trying to instill in his students and players: Reject passivity, Empathize with others, Accept responsibility, Lead courageously.
“Football is more of a side piece, really,” said Kitna. “It's more about speaking into their lives and building them into the young men they need to be successful in the world.”
Kitna will be the backup quarterback Sunday and likely won’t play, but he will have many die-hard Seahawks fans pulling for the Cowboys.
“I'm not a Cowboys fan,” said Erwin. “That's really hard for me to say, but go Cowboys.”
And the gifts keep coming for Lincoln High. Tacoma City Councilman Marty Campbell pledged $100 to the school and $100 more for every touchdown Kitna scores.
If the Seahawks win on Sunday and the Cowboys win this weekend, and next weekend it could set up a playoff matchup in Seattle.