HE HAS toiled inNFL Europe, spent nearly two years on the Bengals' bench and last season wentthree-up, 13-down in Detroit. But take a look at 6'2", 220-poundquarterback Jon Kitna now. At 35 he has been reborn in the NFL, leading the6--2 Lions to their best start in eight years, flaunting a 94.3 passer ratingafter Sunday's 44--7 whupping of the Broncos—and doing it all with a wink and asmile.
On he and wifeJennifer dressing for Halloween as a nude man and a fast-food drive-throughattendant, a reference to last year's indecency episode with Lions assistantcoach Joe Cullen
It was a celebration of how far [Cullen] has come in a year. If I thought hewas still struggling with it, I wouldn't have done it. We like to have fun inour locker room, and afterward, Coach's first question was, "Did you winthe costume contest?" But Roy Williams won. He was some sort ofcrazy-looking pimp.
Why he insisted onwearing this hat in his Players picture
I had a religious conversion in the mid-1990s. People tell me you can't mixsports and your faith, and blah, blah, blah.... I'm not going to stop. Myauthority is Jesus Christ, and he tells me in Matthew 28 to go throughout theland and preach the gospel. That is my job.
The Lions gaudyrecord
The team needs to understand that 6--2 is just a good start. Nothing more. WhenI was younger I would have been a lot more excited.
On having absorbedan NFL-high 33 sacks, and the single-season record of 76
I'm definitely not thinking about that.
On life afterfootball
I have a degree in math education [from Central Washington], and my wife is ahigh school special-ed teacher. We have an awesome opportunity to have animpact on kids' lives. I want to go back and teach at my high school in Tacoma,Washington.
On overcoming aconcussion to lead an OT win over the Vikings in Week 2
When it happened [on a second-quarter hit], I couldn't remember anything. Icouldn't have told you who we played the week before. It was as bad as I haveexperienced. Then at halftime I started to come back mentally, so [from thesideline] I tried to get every play call that went in and I played the game inmy mind. Within an hour I had no symptoms of a concussion, the doctors clearedme, and in the fourth quarter I went in.
On media criticswho say he returned to that game too quickly
They're right. I was questioning it myself—I've got a family of four. But thereality 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 manyoccasions when the Lions have gone without miracles
You build character through perseverance. We've gone through a lot of toughtimes here. That's what makes you a real man. It makes winning that much moreworth it.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS USHER
JEFF FISHBEIN/ICON SMI (KITNA ACTION)