In 1999, Jon Kitna experienced some success while leading his hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks, to the playoffs and gained some popularity. Shortly after, he fell out of favor with the franchise and landed in Cincinnati via free agency in 2001. He was a starter for the Bengals until the 2004 season when then-second-year man Carson Palmer took over the team.
The 2003 season was a banner year for Kitna and the Bengals. Going into that season, he only had an 8-19 win-loss record and had the young gun Palmer looking over his shoulder. With the newly-hired Marvin Lewis, it looked like Kitna's time as a starter was coming to an end, but the coach surprisingly handed the team over to the veteran, so that the rookie could sit and watch.
All that Kitna did was lead the Bengals to a surprising 8-8 record, just missing the playoffs, as well as winning the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award while never missing a single snap all season. He threw for 3,591 yards, 26 touchdowns and an 87.4 rating. It was his best year in his career as a full-time starter that also catapulted players like the then-Chad Johnson into stardom.
A consummate pro and good guy, Kitna has officially announced his retirement from the NFL. He had been with the Dallas Cowboys for the past three seasons and filled in admirably for the injured Tony Romo last season. Overall, Kitna had a 15-year career, playing for the Seahawks, Bengals, Lions and the Cowboys.
Kitna was one of the best character guys in the NFL. He is a very religious man, but also a fiery leader with a lot of confidence. He stuck with the Bengals until the 2006 season and Carson Palmer always praised him for the leadership he provided him at the position (funny how Palmer's numbers slipped after Kitna's departure).
So, congratulations to Kitna on a solid NFL career. He came from a small college and rose up the ranks to start at quarterback for four different franchises. He had his ups and downs while in Cincinnati, but he'll always be remembered for that magical 2003 season, which ultimately led the Bengals to the turnaround they've experienced over the past nine seasons.