Kurt Warner Is the Hustler of the NFL

Will JeffersonCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Kurt Warner #13 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on before entering the field to take on the Green Bay Packers at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

He doesn't get the attention.

He doesn't get the recognition.

I think that's just how Kurt Warner likes it.

How many people forgot or dismissed last year's playoff run by Warner and the Arizona Cardinals as they again unconvincingly cruised to the regular season title of a weak division?

How many people wrote off Warner and the Cardinals altogether, after last week's thrashing by the Green Bay Packers, in a supposed preview of their playoff rematch?

Of the few that didn't, how many still gave them a chance after Saturday's announcement that star receiver Anquan Boldin would not play?

Afterall, how could the Cardinals win without Boldin? It was just those great receivers, Fitzgerald and Boldin, that made Warner look good, right?

Think again.

Maybe the lack of attention, the lack of recognition, and the lack of respect is just how Warner likes it.

For the second year in a row, the Cardinals have begun the postseason by winning a game that nobody thought they would win.

What about Warner?

Oh, just 29 of 33 for 379 yards, 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a near-perfect passer rating of 154.1.

Those weren't pad-the-stats-in-a-blowout numbers. They came against the NFL's fifth-ranked pass defense. And the Cards needed every one of those yards and touchdowns and more in a 51-45 overtime win.

But don't tell anybody...because Warner would like to do it again next week on the road in New Orleans, just as he did last year in Carolina.

Maybe he's the NFL's ultimate hustler, but he isn't fooling me. I won't be betting against him in New Orleans.

I, for one, am giving Kurt Warner every bit of the credit and respect he is due.

After not even getting a chance to play in the NFL until late in his career, Warner has made good use of the time he's had, making it to three Super Bowls, winning one, and losing the other two by a hair.

Observers, it seems, fall over themselves to give the credit to anybody but Warner. The coaches, the offensive coordinators, the receivers.

But where were the Rams in the years before they had Warner? Where were the Cardinals? And where are the Rams now that he's gone?

Warner is a special player. He reads a defence and the openings on the field like no other passer in the league.

He may not have Petyon Manning's height and quick release, he may not have Brett Favre's gunslinger flash, he may not have Ben Roethlisberger's ability to scramble and salvage broken plays, but Warner's play under playoff pressure has been as flawless as any quarterback who ever played.

If he'd had the defenses that Troy Aikman and Tom Brady had to back them up, his Super Bowl record might look like theirs.

And if he hadn't had the prolonged and recurring concussion problems he's suffered through, one can only wonder how many more Super Bowls he would have been in.

In what rumors say might be his last NFL season, it's time we stop dismissing, overlooking, and underrating Kurt Warner.

It's time we gave him a place among the top quarterbacks in NFL history.

Even if he'd rather we didn't.