After 12 NFL seasons Kurt Warner retired today from playing Football. Kurt Warner the last 12 years has given us one of the best real life stories that we may ever see in the NFL. He came from the bottom of the gutter working in grocery store, to holding up the Vince Lombardi trophy. He’s been from hell and back multiple times leaving a lasting impression on the game of Football.
Kurt is riding off into the sunset with the question that most people are asking themselves today. Is Kurt Warner a Hall of Famer? This may be the last time we see Kurt Warner in the spotlight until his day in Canton, Ohio…if that day ever comes.
Underrated in the sense that his play was always overshadowed by the flashier, more mainstream quarterbacks like a Brett Favre, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning; he wasn’t the draw the America media wanted to grab a hold of. For the most part Kurt Warner seemed fine with his role in the social ladder of the NFL as he was more in tune on what was taking part on the field and not off it. He was one of the “good guys” in the NFL and truly embarked that moniker.
Warner led one of the best offensive units in the last decade in football when he was the quarterback for the early 2000s version of the St. Louis Rams aka “The Greatest Show on turf.” In his first season as a starting quarterback thanks to an injury from Trent Green that put him out for the year, he took a team that was 4-12 in its previous season, led them to a 13-3 record and helped guide them to winning the Super Bowl. In his first season as starting quarterback in the NFL (1999), he was named NFL MVP.
Kurt Warner had continued success in St. Louis guiding them back to the Super Bowl in 2001 where they lost to the eventual champion New England Patriots. Poor play and injuries his final two years in St. Louis led him to being released. His release led critics start wondering if this was it for the former 2-time NFL MVP and if it was time to write the final chapter in this good heartwarming story.
Warner would get picked up by the New York Giants to serve as a mentor to new first round quarterback Eli Manning. The Kurt Warner mentorship in New York lasted only nine games before they handed the keys to the city to Eli Manning for good. Once again people were wondering if this was the curtain call for Kurt Warner.
Enter the Arizona Cardinals, a team very much similar to that of the St. Louis Rams where embarrassment and bottom feeder went hand in hand with the team. Warner in his time in Arizona continued to fight for a starting job with the younger highly touted left hander from USC, Matt Leinart. Warner displayed the same fight he showed his entire NFL career when he joined the Arizona Cardinals.
While the final chapter many felt was being written in the book of Warner, Kurt Warner continued to fight for more pages in that book. Getting opportunity after opportunity in Arizona to continue to show his craft as a quarterback to the world and finally in 2008 he would reach the top of the NFL pedestal again by leading the upstart Arizona Cardinals ballclub back to the Super Bowl where they would fall short to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a great game.
My answer is yes. Will it be a first ballot? Probably not, but he is without a doubt a Hall of Famer. Putting numbers and credentials aside, he displays the mental & physical toughness that it takes to be a top player in the NFL. He is a description of what it means to be motivated. When people tell you can’t do it, he was the type of person that would question it and say “watch this.”
He is the embodiment of a hall of fame football player and person. One of the few real “good guys” that whether you wearing a Raiders jersey or Patriots jersey you can applaud for everything he has given to the game. He rose from the bottom to the top, was written off and rose from the ashes yet again to prove us all wrong. He is a true fighter.
Someday Kurt Warner will don the coat of the NFL Hall of Fame. It may not be in 5 years, in may not be in 10. But someday when I take my family and my children through the NFL Football Hall of Fame Kurt Warner’s name will be etched in stone, his jersey enshrined and his legacy on display.
Top 10 Kurt Warner Moments
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Read Kurt’s story in All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football, and the First Miracle Season.
Watch the Greatest Show on Turf on the NFL: America’s Game: 1999 St. Louis Rams DVD.
Order the Madden NFL 10: Official Strategy Game Guide by clicking here.