Published: Thursday, November 22, 2007
Kitna's faith helps bring Lions closer
The QB prays with teammates after every practice and game and at his home.
NORTHVILLE, Mich. (AP) Jon Kitna was surrounded.
The Detroit Lions quarterback had one person grabbing his neck, another across his shoulders and someone clinging to his legs.
Luckily for Kitna, three of his four young children were piling on him this time and not a 300-pound defensive tackle.
Kitna had been sacked an NFL-high 40 times entering today's game against Green Bay, and that doesn't count the playful hits he takes when his kids treat him like playground equipment in the basement of his mansion.
"The truth comes out about his back," quipped backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who recently was a guest because Jennifer Kitna cooked up her signature dish of bow-tie pasta with spicy sausage. "He didn't get hurt playing football."
The 35-year-old Kitna also isn't defined by football.
Perhaps as much as any athlete, Kitna wears his faith on his sleeve and head.
He has worn baseball caps emblazoned with a cross since 1996, when he signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. Several years ago, while playing in Cincinnati, he started ordering 500 at a time to give away.
Kitna gathers his teammates for a prayer circle after every practice and game, and about a dozen of them come over each week with their wives and girlfriends for Bible study.
"We didn't want to have a house this big," Kitna said during a recent interview with The Associated Press inside his 8,000-plus-square-foot home. "But we felt like God told us to buy it because we have 40 people under this roof at any given time because there are a lot more believers here than there were when I played for the Bengals."
Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer said Kitna brought teammates closer by sharing his faith.
"He's a guy you want to talk to, you want to be around, you want to listen to, because he's full of knowledge," Palmer said Wednesday. "You know he knows any religious question you can bring to him. A lot of guys have different questions, whether it be about the Bible or about any religion. You feel comfortable going to him because he's not going to give you a one-sided answer. He's going to give you the truth.
"Aside from religious stuff, he's just fun to be around. He's knowledgeable about sports, about books, actors, whatever."
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