Kitna: Thanks for the backhanded compliments

AP/Duane Burleson

AP/Duane Burleson

DETROIT—Lions starting quarterback Jon Kitna has been hearing the preseason buzz that has flooded sports talk radio and television outlets such as ESPN and Fox Sports, most of which reluctantly identifies him as the best quarterback in the signal caller–challenged NFC North Division.

The halfhearted praise, which is usually accompanied by smirks, chuckles, and utterances such as “No, I mean it!” or “Well, maybe Tarvar–no, I’ll go with Kitna,” has prompted a one-word response from the pride of the Lions:

Thanks.

“Seriously, it’s nice to be talked about in these pseudo-pleasantries and ‘least of four evils’ sentiments,” Kitna said, adding that “my receivers and coaches are dumb enough to believe some of it, which is good for me, bad for Drew Stanton.”

With an unproven Aaron Rodgers, an erratic Tarvaris Jackson, and the Kyle Orton/Rex Grossman circus as his peer group, Kitna has a pretty easy stay atop the NFC North QB food chain. As most observers see it, he simply needs to put on his uniform correctly, master the center-quarterback exchange four times out of five, and throw the ball way up high (a la Jeff Blake) so stud receivers Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson can make plays.

Kitna seems to have a full grasp of the backhanded compliment, as a recent comment showed.

“To hear guys filling weekend graveyard shift minutes on ESPNews singing my praises, or the fifth-string Fox Sports Radio guy give me a slight edge over that fragile, unproven guy in Green Bay, that means the world to me,” Kitna said. “It almost makes me want to refuse my salary, which, if you must know, is exponentially higher than the salaries of the people who are showering me with praise and chuckles.”

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