Friday, January 29, 2010. The day one of the most underappreciated players in NFL history hung up his cleats.
It’s time to give Kurt Warner his due and recognize that he is completely deserving of enshrinement in Canton.
In his 12 NFL seasons Kurt Warner proved time and time again that he deserves a mention when discussing the best quarterbacks to ever stand under center. Yet, time and time again his achievements were shooed away by naysayers.
Some said he was nothing more than the product of being in the right places, with the right offenses, at the right times. Others allege that his career totals just don’t approach those of the all time greats.
The truth is that anyone who doesn’t think that Kurt Warner’s career oozes with Hall of Fame credentials needs to get a grip.
Or perhaps take a closer look at the numbers.
In addition to being a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and four-time Pro Bowler, Warner holds the all-time record for passing yards in a single Super Bowl, 414 against the Titans in the Rams’ Super Bowl XXXIV victory.
He also has the second highest passing yardage total for a single Super Bowl, 377 against the Steelers two seasons ago. What about his 365 passing yards in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Pats? Well, that performance ranks a mere third on the all-time list.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that those three performances make Warner the all-time leader in career passing yards in the Super Bowl. Want more evidence that Warner needs to be in Canton?
Last year, in his 114 career game, Warner tied the record for the fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach 30,000 career passing yards. The other quarterback to reach 30,000 passing yards in 114 games? Some guy named Dan Marino.
Another piece of Warner’s Hall of Fame resume that too often goes unnoticed is the role he played in revitalizing the Arizona Cardinals franchise. Before Warner’s arrival the Cardinals had endured 19 losing seasons in the previous 21 previous years. They hadn’t reached the playoffs in seven seasons or won a division in 30 seasons.
In Warner’s five seasons with the Cardinals, they had two winning seasons, two playoff appearances, won two division championships, and came within a couple of Santonio Holmes toes away from giving the team its first NFL championship since 1947. Cardinals’ fans owe a lot to Warner for being the most important figure in the rebirth of their franchise. Only a hand full of Hall of Famers can list franchise savior on their resume.
Perhaps being a good person shouldn’t win you Hall of Fame votes, but it is enough to make you respect and appreciate someone.
Kurt Warner is a good person. He has appeared in public service announcements for Civitan International, a volunteer organization that works with the developmentally disabled and donated both his time and money to his First Things First Foundation, which works on various community service projects.
For his off the field efforts, Warner has received a variety of recognitions including winning the NFL’s Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award in 2008, and being named the NFL’s best role model on and off the field by Sports Illustrated.
Warner’s final career statistics can’t measure up against the likes of Marino, Elway, Favre, or even Drew Bledsoe and Vinny Testaverde, but Warner’s career path deviated greatly from the aforementioned. In fact, Warner’s story is part of what makes him so great.
Everyone knows the back story of Kurt Warner. After graduating from Northern Iowa in 1994, Warner failed to win a roster spot with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent. After being cut, Warner returned to Cedar Rapids where he famously bagged groceries at a Hy-Vee grocery store for $5.50 an hour.
A year later he made his debut in the Arena Football League with the Iowa Barnstormers. In 2008, after three successful seasons with the Barnstormers, Warner finally got his break when he signed with the St. Louis Rams. After spending a season tearing up NFL Europe, Warner became the Rams starter in 1999 at the age of 28. The rest is NFL history.
I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote. If I did the first name I would look for when casting my ballot five years from now would be Kurt Warner, surefire Hall of Famer.
And Kurt, please don’t go all Brett Favre on us and come back. Yours is an image I would hate to see tarnished.