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Jon Kitna ... The Lion King
As told to Adam Duerson
November 12, 2007
HE HAS toiled in NFL Europe, spent nearly two years on the Bengals' bench and last season went three-up, 13-down in Detroit. But take a look at 6'2", 220-pound quarterback Jon Kitna now. At 35 he has been reborn in the NFL, leading the 6--2 Lions to their best start in eight years, flaunting a 94.3 passer rating after Sunday's 44--7 whupping of the Broncos—and doing it all with a wink and a smile.
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November 12, 2007

Jon Kitna ... The Lion King

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HE HAS toiled in NFL Europe, spent nearly two years on the Bengals' bench and last season went three-up, 13-down in Detroit. But take a look at 6'2", 220-pound quarterback Jon Kitna now. At 35 he has been reborn in the NFL, leading the 6--2 Lions to their best start in eight years, flaunting a 94.3 passer rating after Sunday's 44--7 whupping of the Broncos—and doing it all with a wink and a smile.

On he and wife Jennifer dressing for Halloween as a nude man and a fast-food drive-through attendant, a reference to last year's indecency episode with Lions assistant coach Joe Cullen
It was a celebration of how far [ Cullen] has come in a year. If I thought he was still struggling with it, I wouldn't have done it. We like to have fun in our locker room, and afterward, Coach's first question was, "Did you win the costume contest?" But Roy Williams won. He was some sort of crazy-looking pimp.

Why he insisted on wearing this hat in his Players picture
I had a religious conversion in the mid-1990s. People tell me you can't mix sports and your faith, and blah, blah, blah.... I'm not going to stop. My authority is Jesus Christ, and he tells me in Matthew 28 to go throughout the land and preach the gospel. That is my job.

The Lions gaudy record
The team needs to understand that 6--2 is just a good start. Nothing more. When I was younger I would have been a lot more excited.

On having absorbed an NFL-high 33 sacks, and the single-season record of 76
I'm definitely not thinking about that.

On life after football
I have a degree in math education [from Central Washington], and my wife is a high school special-ed teacher. We have an awesome opportunity to have an impact on kids' lives. I want to go back and teach at my high school in Tacoma, Washington.

On overcoming a concussion to lead an OT win over the Vikings in Week 2
When it happened [on a second-quarter hit], I couldn't remember anything. I couldn't have told you who we played the week before. It was as bad as I have experienced. Then at halftime I started to come back mentally, so [from the sideline] I tried to get every play call that went in and I played the game in my mind. Within an hour I had no symptoms of a concussion, the doctors cleared me, and in the fourth quarter I went in.

On media critics who say he returned to that game too quickly
They're right. I was questioning it myself—I've got a family of four. But the reality is, in the third quarter I had no symptoms. That, to me, is a miracle. People want miracles to be a paralyzed person walking or a blind person seeing, but there are miracles around us every day.

On the many occasions when the Lions have gone without miracles
You build character through perseverance. We've gone through a lot of tough times here. That's what makes you a real man. It makes winning that much more worth it.

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