IRVING, Texas — Much has been made of the 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 a radio broadcaster, 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 at Lincoln and coached the school’s football team in his native Tacoma.
He led the Abes to an 8-2 record this year. That was up from 5-5 during Kitna’s first season. Kitna’s son, Jordan, a sophomore, was his starting quarterback.
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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.
“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 in 2011. Overall, he has started 124 NFL games for Seattle, Cincinnati, Detroit and Dallas.
Practice rules causing injuries, Belichick says
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Patriots coach Bill Belichick blamed recently instituted NFL rules shortening offseason practice time for what he claims to be an increasing number of player injuries.
“I’m in favor of total preparation for the players for the season,” Belichick said during a conference call with Buffalo reporters this week in leading up to New England’s home game against the Bills on Sunday. “And I think that’s been changed significantly and, I would say, not necessarily for the better when you look at the injury numbers.”
The NFL labor deal that ended the lockout in 2011 prevents teams from holding two-a-day practices during training camp. It also placed limits on how many times players practice in pads throughout the year.
League spokesman Michael Signora disputed Belichick’s assertions.
“We carefully monitor player injuries,” Signora said. “There is no evidence that the new work rules have had an adverse effect on the injury rate or that injuries have in fact increased.”
• Packers linebacker Clay Matthews will miss Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears for the NFC North title after aggravating a right thumb injury.
• Wes Welker returned to the Denver Broncos practice field on Christmas Day for the first time since suffering his second concussion on Dec. 12. Defensive end Derek Wolfe and rookie cornerback Kayvon Webster also returned to practice.