What's with the Hate for Kurt Warner?

Ken WagonerContributor IFebruary 4, 2009

Like many of you I really enjoyed watching the Super Bowl this past Sunday. I wasn't really pulling for either team, I was more or less hoping my fiance and I would be treated to an entertaining and close game, and were we ever.

Other than in games where one of the teams I'm rooting for has pulled out a victory at the last minute I can't remember when I enjoyed a game so much. Thrilled for the Steelers, and their fans, delighted for the Cardinals and their fans, and a little steamed at the referees which is a part of being a fan anyway.

Who could ask for more?

The past couple of days I've been reading some of the articles and comments here regarding Kurt Warner's performance on Sunday. Some like it, some don't, others are neutral. However, in the midst of all of these remarks, I ran across a couple that just went way over the top, at least to my 54 year old eyes.

Want some examples?

1.  Warner had committed "the most boneheaded turnover in the history of the NFL"

2.  Warner had "the worst judgement of almost any quarterback who's ever played the game"

3.  Warner had completed "the WORST and MOST EMBARRASSING PLAY in the HISTORY of the NFL." [caps in the original]

4. His interception returned 100 yards by James Harrison for a touchdown was "the worst play in the history of the league"

5. Warner was "single-handedly responsible for making the worst play in the history of the league"

6. Warner's "incomprehensible blunder, that was, once again, the biggest blunder in the history of the NFL"

I don't understand where all of this is coming from.  My first thought was that I'd run into a series of Warner-haters, either for his efforts at beating the teams these fans rooted for, or his poor performance for teams he'd played for, or for his being the quarterback for a team which has twice lost the Super Bowl in the last minute of the game.

I don't agree with any of these six comments. 

I think the most boneheaded turnover in the history of the NFL is a tossup, between the "Miracle at the Meadowlands" NY Giants fumble by Joe Pisarcik which Herm Edwards returned for a touchdown; and Leon Lett beginning to celebrate a fumble recovery before he'd crossed the goal line, and having the ball knocked away by Don Beebe. 

Both plays were exceedingly clear examples of wrong thinking, and in the case of Pisarcik, it cost his team the game. Warner's interception was at least a 10-point swing, but he rallied from that, and put his team in a position to win the game with 2:37 to go in the biggest game of the year.

Everyone makes mistakes, Warner got up from his and lead his team on a comeback.

In fact, I don't think Warner's interception was even the most boneheaded, blunder, embarrassing, or worst play in the history of the Super Bowl, let alone the entire 84 year history of the NFL.  For a Super Bowl Blunder of epic proportions, I have two nominations.

The first, and the winner in my thoughts, is Garo Yepremian deciding to try and throw/run with a blocked field goal attempt against the Redskins. His bumbling effort resulted in a touchdown for the Redskins by Mike Bass bringing them to withing seven-points with about 2:00 left in the game.

That was epic, and for the rest of Yepremian's life, perhaps even when he dies, that play is going to be shown on television.

The second, and a close runner up for me, is Earl Morrall making the decision to ignore a wide open Jimmy Orr in the end zone on a flea-flicker play in Super Bowl III.  Morrall decided to throw to Jerry Hill, who was more or less a "dump-off" target on the play, and the ball was intercepted. 

At the time it happened it could have brought Baltimore into a tie with the Jets, and Super Bowl III might have ended differently.

As for "worst judgment of any quarterback who's played the game" I don't even think Warner qualifies in the Super Bowl, let alone the history of the league. Rich Gannon threw five against Tampa, three of which were returned for touchdowns. 

Craig Morton threw seven in two games, both loses for his team.  You think Warner's interception was more costly to his team that Neil O'Donnell's against the Cowboys?  Neil's yanked the rug out from underneath a Steelers team that had clawed it's way back to within a field goal of Dallas, after trailing by thirteen. 

In reference to the "biggest blunder in the history of the NFL" I would submit that Mike Ditka's decision to trade his entire draft for the right to select Ricky Williams when he was at New Orleans, or the decision by the Vikings to trade five players and six draft picks to the Cowboys for Herschel Walker are bigger blunders.

Williams was a disaster at New Orleans, and the six picks for Dallas yielded Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, and Darren Woodson. I don't much like comparisons but I think those blunders are gargantuan when compared to one interception.

Despite the tone of this article I'm not really a big Warner booster or fan, I just found those comments were so far afield from what he's actually brought to the game that it warranted response. I think he's performed very well on the biggest stage the game has three times.

I know that his teams were in a position to win the game with less than 2:00 remaining in each Super Bowl he participated in, and he helped put them there.

  • In the game against the Titans, he threw that beautiful pass to Bruce, which put the Rams ahead to stay with 1:54 left;
  • Against the Patriots, he hit Proehl with the game tying pass with 1:30 left;
  • And on Sunday, he hit Fitz with a strike with 2:47 left, which put Arizona up by three.

Three times he guided his team to a chance to win the game in a Super Bowl. That's a very good performance when the money was on the line in each game. 

Good enough to earn my respect.