Unless he goes all Brett Favre on us, Kurt Warner’s retirement will mark the end of a terrific career which we are now free to evaluate.
Nobody was more of a nobody, and then instantly more of a somebody than Kurt Warner was. From going undrafted in 1994, to working at his local grocery store, to playing in the now defunct Area Football League, to playing in NFL Europe, to signing on with the Rams as a third string Quarterback, to Super Bowl MVP...Kurt Warner’s story is amazing for many reasons.
While his rags to riches journey has been well documented, here are five amazing things about Kurtis Eugene Warner you may not have known:
Warner was an everyday Joe who stocked shelves at his local grocery store then defied the odds and became one of the great players in NFL history. But Warner’s success at the NFL level was also instantaneous, winning NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP in his first season as a starter.
He played so well right away it was obvious he possessed this talent all along. In fact, it was almost as if he had the talent to do absolutely anything, he just decided he was going to try football now. Makes sense right? If you could magically give a man the talent to do absolutely anything, I firmly believe he would eventually decide to be an NFL quarterback. At least for a little while that is, before moving on to curing disease, ending war and all.
So based on how quickly he took to pro football, you have to assume Kurt Warner had the talent to do anything, and thus was also the greatest grocery store shelf stocker of all-time too.
Since Iowa has no pro-football team, this is what he is most remembered for there: Tossing vegetables in the proper racks with pinpoint precision; masterful manipulation of the pricing gun; side-stepping a rush of grocery carts while carefully arranging discounted pudding; calling an audible at the last second to rebuild a pyramid of watermelons because it just didn’t look right.
Don’t bother telling him if you want paper or plastic, he already knows.
2. Super Bowl Yards
The statistical achievements that justify Kurt’s title as an NFL hero are many. But finding a way to sum them in up can be difficult. 4,830 yards doesn’t mean as much in everyday conversation as say, 70 home runs does.
So try this one on for size: Kurt Warner owns the top three passing yardage totals in the history of the Super Bowl. Pretty cool right, considering he has been to the Super Bowl exactly three times. If you vist nfl.com here you will see the three highest totals in history for yards gained in a Super Bowl reads:
1. 414 Kurt Warner, St. Louis vs. Tennessee, XXIV (1999)
2. 377 Kurt Warner, Arizona vs. Pittsburgh, XLIII (2008)
3. 365 Kurt Warner, St. Louis vs. New England, XXXVI (2001)
Get this guy to the big game and he will go off, and throw for more yards than anybody but himself. For the record, Donovan McNabb and Joe Montana are tied for fourth with 357 yards gained in the Super Bowl.
Kurt has always been known to be a very spiritual and religious man. But wouldn’t you have to be to bring the Gozerian back from Dimension X, and keep her from terrorizing New York all this time? Sorry if that sounds mean, but shots of Brenda Warner cheering on Kurt in 1999 from the stands actually validated Kurt’s humble beginnings. This guy wasn’t married to Gisele Bundchen, he really was married to a fellow grocery store clerk.
Thankfully over the years Warner was also able to tame Gozer and transform Brenda Warner into a human being again.
4. Rags to Riches Infection
The life of an NFL quarterback is fun to observe from a far because they all have stories. Their careers are at the mercy of uncontrollable circumstances, a challenging environment and the other quarterbacks in their life.
If they’re not taking somebody’s job, somebody’s taking theirs. So when summing up a quarterback’s career you can’t actually do it without mentioning the guy who drafted him, the guy who he was replacing, the guys he played with and the guys he has defeated along the way.
Considering so many quarterbacks are taken in the first round of the NFL draft, Warner actually ended up being tied to more rags to riches stories than just his own:
Just an eighth round pick in 1993, Green ended up playing for, and getting cut by, the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. He caught on with Redskins some four years later, and parlayed a successful season into a huge free-agent deal with the Rams in 1999, but was injured in a preseason game and lost for the season. Green’s backup Kurt Warner, took over and led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory. Green moved on to Kansas City and in 2004 lead the Chiefs to a 13-3 record while throwing for over 4,000 yards and earning a trip to his second pro-bowl.
New England’s sixth round pick in the 2000 draft, Brady was originally the fourth string QB behind former first rounder Drew Bledsoe. He replaced an injured Bledsoe in mid-2001 and would up leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory, where they defeated Kurt Warner’s heavily favored Rams. He has since appeared in three more Super Bowls, winning two, and is regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time already.
Another undrafted free-agent in 1997, Delhomme served as Kurt Warner’s backup when they both played for NFL Europe’s Amsterdam Admirals. Delhomme signed as a backup QB for the Carolina Panthers in 2003, and replaced starter Rodney Peete during halftime of the season opener. He started every game the rest of the way and ended up guiding the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII, where they lost to Tom Brady’s Patriots. He signed a massive contract extension with Panthers in 2009.
Sixth round pick out of West Virginia, Bulger was originally the Rams' third string quarterback behind Kurt Warner and Jamie Martin. After injuries to both, Bulger was handed the starting job in 2002. He has since gone on to make two pro-bowls and signed a lucrative contract extension with the Rams in 2007.
5. Liar Liar
Kurt Warner and his wife Brenda are devote Christians who operate the charitable foundation First Things First , whose stated mission is: “Dedicated to impacting lives by promoting Christian values, sharing experiences and providing opportunities to encourage everyone that all things are possible.”
Kurt carries a bible with him to every press conference, and he and Brenda have seven children. In all seriousness raising millions of dollars for children is truly noble and the Warners should be commended for that. But it has it disadvantages too, one being that Kurt Warner can never tell a lie.
Not that lying is a good thing, but as the Jim Carrey movie carefully illustrates, bending the truth is necessary in everyday life. It helps us remain civilized and diplomatic. Warner does not enjoy this luxury. Having to be straight-up with people all the time has truly tested his faith.
Kurt has never been able to console a sobbing Matt Leinart without reminding him how awful he is at football. Anquan Boldin is always causing a scene on the sidelines because Warner can’t help but say he liked Anquan’s nose better before it was broken in 2008. Beanie Wells can’t wear turtlenecks because Kurt is always so blunt about how large his head is.
He never swears either, or at hasn’t since 2008 when according to his website, he officially found Jesus.
There you have it Kurt, we love you. Thanks for showing us that anything is possible.