In the age of the professional athlete over-staying their welcome or trying to squeeze out more time from their 15 minutes of fame, its quite refreshing to see that quarterback Kurt Warner knows when to say when. Hopefully. We've been down this road before with too many athletes whether it was Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and of course the flip-flopping flousie Brett Favre. Let's hope he sticks to his word. I think he will since Kurt has never been facetious in his statements for the most part over the course of his career.
The last two years for Warner had put him neck and neck with the Cal Ripken of football, Favre. After leaving the greatest show on turf, he came to the Giants, fresh off an injury, to mentor then rookie Eli Manning. He played decently, but not good enough. He remained the consummate professional, remaining confident without being arrogant. He then left for Arizona, again, to groom another highly touted rookie in Matt Leinart. The next three years would not only rejuvenate Kurt Warner's career, but rejuvenated the whole Arizona Cardinals franchise.
Bought in to mentor Leinart, he eventually won the starting job over him. The next two years, he lead the the Cardinals to two straight playoff berths, a position that Arizona fans were very unfamiliar with. Think he threw 83 TD passes his last three seasons in Arizona, compared to 27 in his previous five. Paired with super receiver Larry Fitzgerald, they almost pulled off a colossal upset over the heavily favored Steelers.
Warner, unlike Favre, never kept teams in limbo wondering if he was going to retire or not. He never reneged on his " I'm 100 percent certain" I wont return claims. Funny enough, the two franchises that Favre screwed, The Jets and Packers, both made the playoffs, and seemed to do better without him. As a Jets fan, watching us trade Pennington to get him, watching him throw 22 interceptions, listening to him saying he was done, AGAIN, and then belly-ache about his shoulder, and come back with the Vikings made me lose all respect for Favre. Make no doubt about it, he's a legend. But he certainly tarnished his legacy with all the waiting and flip-flopping.
Warner accepted the role of playing mentor to two highly heralded incoming quarterbacks. And he was such a team player, and played so well that he earned himself a starter's position, and in Arizona, elevated his game to coming close to winning his third MVP award. Not bad for a guy who was undrafted and bagging groceries beforehand.
With the exception of Peyton Manning, very few quarterbacks drafted high with a lot of fanfare materialize in the league. I think of how many quarterbacks wound up being Hall of Famers and elite quarterbacks that nobody expected. Tom Brady. Drew Brees. Kurt Warner never gave up, and if he wasn't so old, he probably could play another couple of years, and would lead his Arizona Cardinal team to a Super Bowl victory pending a couple of moves. Kurt wouldn't deceive his self, his fans, his family, or his organization by making fake retirement proclamations. One doesn't think of the receivers or the back up quarterbacks confidence every time they don't know who is going to start at quarterback. It makes a huge difference.
Kurt Warner is a team player. A leader. These last few years in Arizona proves that if one works hard, accepts the role the team designates for him, and believes in himself, as well as his teammates, success can be achieved. He went in accepting the role as mentor, and became the leader. The franchise. Now, he'll be remembered as a legend.
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