RENTON – Don’t be surprised if you see a familiar face flash across your flat screen holding a clipboard in a Dallas Cowboys uniform.
Tacoma native and Lincoln High grad Jon Kitna is alive and kicking in the NFL, serving as Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s backup.
“Jon’s been great,” Romo said. “He’s a consummate professional. He comes to work every day, he’s got a good attitude, he knows the game and I’ve said for awhile, he’s by far, I think, the best backup in the league and we’re lucky to have him.”
Kitna’s in the final year of his contract with the Cowboys and doesn’t know what his plans are beyond this season.
“The way I’m looking at it is, whenever I’m done here and my contract is up we’ll see what the Lord has in store with me and my family,” Kitna said. “We’re good either way. If God presents us with another opportunity, we’re good with it. But we’re excited about the next phase of our life, too.”
Kitna’s wife, Jennifer, and the rest of family stayed locally in a home the family finished building in the Lakewood area in January. It’s the first time in his 15-year career that he’s lived apart from his family during the season, although they still see each other every couple of weeks.
Kitna said that with his kids getting older he felt it was time to settle his family where he planned to live once his playing days are over. Once he’s finished in the NFL, Kitna says, he still plans on pursing a teaching and coaching career, along with pursuing a faith-based ministry working with kids.
“My wife and I always felt like these years in the NFL have prepared us for what our real calling in life is going to be as teachers and running a high school football program,” Kitna said. “I don’t think there’s anything that has changed from that. God has used my time in the NFL to train me to be ready to train young men to be authentic, real leaders, and to have a positive impact on society. And I want to use the avenue of football to do that. So I am very clear, and my wife is very clear in our calling.”
But don’t be misled – Kitna says he can still play. He understands teams aren’t exactly clamoring for 39-year-old starting quarterbacks, but he got a chance to show what he can do last year when Romo went down with a broken clavicle in Week 7. Kitna started nine games, completing 209 of 318 passes (65.7 percent) for 2,365 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, leading the Cowboys to a 4-5 record.
Kitna’s among the top 10 active quarterbacks in passing yards (29,745), touchdowns (169) and game-winning drives (22).
“It’s something I don’t like,” Kitna said regarding his backup status. “I don’t enjoy it. But I do know that’s where God has me right now. I try to be the person I would want behind me if I was a starter. That’s kind of the approach that I take.”
Kitna said he looks forward to facing his hometown team on Sunday – the team where his career started. Kitna signed with Seattle as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Central Washington University in 1997.
“That’s where it all started,” he said. “It’s not the first time I played against them, obviously. I just have great memories from my time there. I’m just very thankful for that organization, and coach Dennis Erickson and (former Seahawks general manager) Randy Mueller for giving me a chance when there was no chance.”
QB JACKSON WILL BE A GAME-TIME DECISION
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (strained pectoral muscle) will be a game-time decision. Jackson fully participated during Friday’s walk-through practice after being a limited participant Thursday.
Jackson is listed as probable on the team’s injury report.
“If he’s ready to play, then he’s playing,” Carroll said. “We know now kind of what to expect more so, but he’s got to come back from this. He practiced Wednesday and couldn’t practice on Thursday. He threw a little bit today, and so we need to see what happens by Sunday.
“I don’t know until we get there. We’re going to keep our fingers crossed because we’d love to have him going; he’d love to play. If it’s even close, he’s going to tell me he can, so we’ve just got to evaluate it as we go. We’ll watch him throw in pregame and make sure he’s right.”
Carroll said defensive tackle Alan Branch (knee/hip) and tight end Cameron Morrah (toe/knee) will also be game-time decisions. …
Both players did not practice and worked on the side with trainers. If Branch can’t go, then Clinton McDonald will get the start at defensive tackle. And the Seahawks likely will go with just two tight ends in Anthony McCoy and Zach Miller if Morrah can’t play. …
Receiver Sidney Rice returned to practice Friday after sitting out Thursday with a foot issue and will play on Sunday. He’s listed as probable. …
Receiver Mike Williams (hamstring) fully participated in practice and should be available Sunday. Linebacker David Vobora did not practice because of a calf issue and also will be a game-time decision. Linebacker Leroy Hill (knee) and safety Kam Chancellor (knee) both fully participated in practice and were listed as probable for Sunday. …
For Dallas, cornerback Mike Williams (hamstring) and running back Felix Jones (ankle) did not practice and are out. Linebacker Sean Lee (wrist) did not practice and is doubtful. Punter Mat McBriar (left foot) and offensive lineman Kyle Kosier (foot) were limited participants in practice and are questionable. And quarterback Tony Romo (ribs) was a full participant in practice and is probable.
Seattle at Dallas, 10 a.m., Ch. 13, 1240-AM, 97.3-FM