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Text message leads Jon Kitna to Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- On Tuesday, Jon Kitna sent Jason Garrett a text message saying he was ready if the Dallas Cowboys coach needed him. By Tuesday night Kitna had a deal to join the Cowboys.

Garrett's first reaction to the text message 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 has been teaching math and coaching the football team at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., since leaving the Cowboys following the 2011 season in part because of a herniated disk, the same injury that is troubling Tony Romo and required the Cowboys to sign a backup.

Kyle Orton would start against the Philadelphia Eagles if Romo can't play.

Garrett asked Kitna what kind of condition he was in and gave the quarterback a 30-minute window to make a decision. Kitna, 41, talked with his family and the decision was easy to make.

"I said, '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."

That the Cowboys run the same offense with many of the same players that played with Kitna from 2009-11 -- like Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin -- helped ease Kitna's mind and the Cowboys' concerns.

"The learning the new guys would have to have in a short period of time to be able to function, we felt this was the best decision for us," Garrett said. "You want a guy who has been playing all year long. But with the options available to us we felt Kitna gives us the best chance."

But Kitna has no visions of grandeur.

"Again, Lord willing I never get to see the football field and Kyle plays awesome," Kitna said.

Not that he was trying to break news about Romo's availability Sunday.

"Well, I mean he's preparing to play," Kitna said. "I think if Tony comes back everybody will be pretty happy about that."