IRVING, Texas — Much has been made of the Cowboys signing 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 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 resume, has taught math and coached football at Lincoln High School in his native Tacoma, Wash.
The football team — the Abes — finished its season last month at 8-2. That was up from 5-5 during Kitna’s first season. Kitna’s son, Jordan, a sophomore, was his starting quarterback.
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 conversation 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 last two seasons. At practice on Wednesday, Kitna ran the scout team offense.
It’s something he had been doing for the Lincoln Abes.
“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.”
In 2010, Kitna played in 10 games, starting nine, for the Cowboys after Romo suffered a broken collarbone. He was 4-5. He appeared in three games, all off the bench in 2011. Overall, he has started 124 NFL games for Seattle, Cincinnati, Detroit and the Cowboys.