10 Reasons Why Arizona QB Kurt Warner Would Be Crazy to Retire
Few imagined Kurt Warner could have such a significant impact on the NFL when he emerged from anonymity in 1999 to lead the Rams to the Super Bowl.
Now, 11 years later, talk is swirling that this could be the last season for a quarterback who endured a Hollywood-like rise to the top of the NFL.
Following the Cardinals victory over Green Bay in the Wild Card round, Warner was non-committal about his future.
When prompted about what lies ahead for him, Warner offered, "I don't think you ever want to stay too long, but you never want to go out before it's time. The hard part is trying to figure that out, but right now it's about another playoff game. It's about New Orleans and then we'll go from there."
With one year left on his contract and plenty of tread left on the tires, retirement seems like a hasty decision. For a quarterback with an atypical route to NFL stardom, one who built his career by doing things critics said he could not do, it is worth it to Warner, Cardinals fans, and the NFL for him to give it one more year.
Here are 10 reasons why he'd be crazy to hang it up.
1. The League's Best Wide Receiver Corps
Warner is throwing to the best group of receivers anywhere in the league. The Cardinals' air attack goes four-wide with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston, and Early Doucet.
Fitzgerald did not post the best numbers in 2009, but his superior hands and ability to move the chains or hit the home run ball make him the front line versatile weapon Warner hits with his eyes closed.
Anquan Boldin, who very well could be a true No. 1 receiver on at least half the teams in the league, has one year left on his deal. He is out to put up a big year and get paid. That kind of motivation could do a lot of damage to opposing defensive backs.
Steve Breaston is not the biggest or the fastest. However, solid hands and route running have made him one of the best slot receivers in the league. Living in the empty space between Fitzgerald's and Boldin's routes make him dangerous.
Early Doucet's big day against Green Bay (6 catches, 77 yards, 2 TD) showed how he can be just as big of a weapon in the slot opposite Breaston.
For Warner, it will be easy to continue his big numbers with these four options.
2. Young, Talented Running Backs
It is a trend sweeping the NFL. Instead of one workhouse, teams opt for a dual threat in the backfield. The Cardinals have that in Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower.
Wells was the Cardinals first-round pick in 2009 and looked the part. He got stronger as the year went on, finishing with 793 yards which was good for second among rookie running backs.
The Cards are pass-first team, but Wells should be a 1,000-yard rusher next season and will be a tremendous anchor for Warner.
Tim Hightower can step in for Wells in short-yardage situations or on the goal line. The second-year back is the Cardinals battering ram but also catches out of the backfield. He caught 97 passes in his first two seasons and is another option for Warner.
3. The NFC West Has Not Caught Up
The Cardinals still rule a soft division. The 49ers are making strides, and even swept Arizona this season, but their eight wins in 2009 were the most since 2002. The 49ers' offense cannot match Arizona's firepower and they have not shown the consistency to take it to the next level.
The Seahawks are likely to land to Pete Carroll, but they are still a backsliding team with an aging quarterback and injury issues across the roster. A first-year head coach and those troubles won't dethrone the Cardinals atop the division.
The St. Louis Rams have won six games over the past three seasons. The Rams are still trying to figure out how to get outside the top three in the NFL Draft let alone win the division.
4. An Aggressive, Popular Head Coach
Ken Whisenhunt has created a culture of winning in Arizona. Increasing win totals in every year as head coach: eight wins in 2007, nine wins in 2008, 10 wins in 2009.
Whisenhunt's Cardinals have won three more playoff games over the last two seasons than Cardinals had won in the previous 60 years. An older QB wants a coach he can trust and a model of consistency, and the Cardinals have that in their head coach.
5. Earn His Hall of Fame Credentials
Over the last two seasons, the Hall of Fame talk regarding Kurt Warner has picked up. Two MVP awards and a Super Bowl ring would land many quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame.
However, there is a significant argument against Warner. Despite years of very gaudy numbers in St. Louis and Arizona, Warner endured a five-year lull in productivity in which he never started more than 10 games or threw for more than 2,800 yards.
His career is bookended by three great seasons and that may not be enough to get him into Canton. One more highly productive year could end the debate.
6. Who Wants to Leave Arizona?
A son of Iowa, he gets to spend one more season in Arizona and earn the recognition as the biggest sports star in a town that has won one title in the 40-plus year history of professional sports in Phoenix.
Many players have a tendency of leaving and a year later have the itch to return (hello, Brett Favre), but Warner could play one more year in a great location. "One more year in the sun" as they say, in the sunniest place in the NFL.
7. University of Phoenix Stadium
Before the new Cowboys Stadium opened up, University of Phoenix Stadium was the toast of NFL stadiums. While every stadium heads towards FieldTurf or something similar, the Cardinals home stadium remains true to natural grass, despite being a domed venue.
University of Phoenix Stadium has been home significant story lines and upsets in recent years: The 2007 BCS championship game (Florida over Ohio State). Super Bowl XLII (Giants over Patriots), the 2007 Fiesta Bowl (Boise State over Oklahoma), and the 2008 Fiesta Bowl (WVU over Oklahoma).
Throw in the 2009 NCAA Men's Tournament West Regional and a lot of other history has been written there, but not for the home team.
Warner will have a chance to leave a lasting legacy in the Cardinals building for its regular tenant and as the franchise's greatest QB.
8. More Air Time for Brenda Warner
Warner's suddenly dashing wife was all over our TV sets when the Rams shocked the NFL in 1999.
Then with her short, spiky hair and boisterous crowd reactions, the much publicized wife of Kurt Warner had a look in the late-'90s that left fans thinking "An NFL QB is married to her??!?"
Now fans are thinking, what did Kurt do with the real Brenda Warner? Tomboy-turned-Housewife of Orange County can keep butts in front of the TV even during blowouts.
9. The Guy Can Still Sling It
One thing every playoff team, in both conferences, had in common is that they all had franchise quarterbacks. Getting to the playoffs is the brand of such a signal caller in today's NFL and at 38 years old, Warner is still that that franchise QB.
With one year left on his deal and gas in the tank, Warner can still put up big numbers and take one more shot at the whole prize and wrap a legacy in the process.
10. The Ring
Isn't that why every player takes the field, even one more year than most think he should? No starting quarterback has ever won a Super Bowl with two different teams. Warner came the closest last season but lost to Pittsburgh on the final drive.
If it doesn't happen this year, Warner will have one last crack at it in the final year of his contract. A second ring would likely cement his Hall of Fame status.