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December 25, 2013

Jon Kitna answers Cowboys' help-wanted sign with a text message

When Jon Kitna heard Tony Romo had a herniated disc that might keep him out this week, Kitna sent a text message to coach Jason Garrett on Tuesday asking if the Cowboys needed help.

Garrett's reply was: Are you serious?

"He said, ‘Absolutely,’" Garrett said. "He was excited about it. He spoke to his family about it, and it just made sense to us."

Kitna retired after the 2011 season, when he had a herniated disc in his back. He returned to his home in Tacoma, Wash., and has been teaching math and helping coach the football team at Lincoln High School, where his son, a sophomore, is the quarterback.

Kitna is only two pounds off his playing weight, but he isn't in football shape despite having thrown for the scout team at Lincoln.

"It’s not like I have been sitting around trying to stay in shape hoping I get another shot. My career is done. I was happy with that," Kitna said. "I just knew the situation that they were in. Being down here, I felt like I might be able to help in an emergency situation, just be able to, the functionality of running a play in the NFL. So I just felt like if he felt like it was worth a shot I would be willing to do it."

Garrett gave Kitna a 30-minute window to make a decision, and Kitna's family agreed for him to leave for Dallas on Christmas Eve. He spent Wednesday trying to get back up to speed on the offense and the NFL game. But for a quarterback as experienced as Kitna, it's almost like riding a bike.

"Our high school plays aren’t quite as long as what they’re calling here," Kitna said. "But it’s a lot of the same stuff we were running when I was here. It feels good. It came back quick."

-- Charean Williams




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