Why Kurt Warner Deserves a Spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
With the retirement of Kurt Warner this past offseason, speculation has began to whether or not he will be given a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I personally feel that Kurt Warner needs to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and be appreciated for the great quarterback that he has been. This article looks at Warner's career achievements and reasons why he should be given one of the greatest honors in professional football.
Regular season achievements
Before we go into specifics, here is a look at Kurt Warner's statistics:
12 seasons, 116 games started, 67-49 record as a starter, 2,666/4,070 comp/att (65.5 completion percentage), 32,344 passing yards, 208 TD, 128 INT, 93.7 quarterback rating
While that body of work alone is impressive, Warner has also amassed several other achievements. He has been voted into four Pro Bowls and is a two-time league MVP.
Just to put that into perspective: seven players have won multiple league MVP awards. Four of them (Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, and Steve Young) are already in the Hall of Fame, and the other two (Peyton Manning and Brett Favre) are both pretty much guaranteed to make it as well. That is some pretty impressive company that Warner is in.
Warner's most impressive regular season came in 1999, where he posted 4353 yards, 41 touchdowns, and only 13 interceptions to post a rating of 109.3 on his way to winning a league MVP and eventually a Super Bowl (more on that later).
Post season achievements
Before we start, try answering the following three questions:
1. Who has the most passing yards in a single Super Bowl?
2. Who has the second most passing yards in a single Super Bowl?
3. Who has the third most passing yards in a single Super Bowl?
While all time greats like Montana, Elway, and Aikman (among others) might have come to mind, you probably guessed from the context of the article that the answer is Kurt Warner. Warner led the St Louis Rams to two NFC Championships and one Super Bowl victory in his time there and also led the Cardinals to a Super Bowl.
In addition, his career playoff passing numbers are quite the sight:
13 games, 9-4 record, 307/462 comp/att (66.5 completion percentage), 3952 yards, 31 TD, 14 INT, 102.8 rating
Warner may not have as many Super Bowl rings as Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, but his contributions on the field in the playoffs are simply astounding. He also has six career 300 yard playoff games and three playoff games with four or more touchdowns.
What Warner has Meant to His Teams
Before Warner was given his first chance to start for the Rams in 1999, they were one of the league's worst teams. Their record from the three previous seasons was a combined 15-33, and their offense was ranked 20th, 23rd, and 24th in points scored in those three seasons.
With Warner and company, their offense became one of the most dangerous in the past two decades, known by most as the "Greatest Show on Turf." Along with considerable contributions from Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce, Warner led the Rams to being the first-ranked offense in both points and yards for three consecutive years, capturing two league MVP's, two NFC Championships, and a Super Bowl title along the way.
The Rams have only posted one 10-win season since he has left (12-4 in 2003) even though many of the other important pieces of the team were still there.
Later in his career, Warner signed with the Arizona Cardinals, who had long been considered one of the laughing stocks of the NFL (sorry if I offend any Cards fans by saying that). Between 1949 and 2004, the Cardinals only made the playoffs four times and came away with no championships.
With the help of Kurt Warner, the Cardinals shocked the world by winning the NFC Championship in 2008. While the contributions of other important players on that roster must be recognized in that effort, it is very difficult to imagine that turnaround happening without Kurt Warner.
With the help of Kurt Warner, two teams went from mediocrity to Super Bowl contenders.
Possible criticisms of Kurt Warner
1. He had such great receivers that made it difficult not to succeed
While having quality receivers will help any quarterback, you just have to look at other Hall of Famers or potential future Hall of Famers to see that that's a pretty weak argument. Joe Montana and Steve Young both had Jerry Rice who is commonly considered the greatest receiver to ever play the game. Terry Bradshaw had Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Johnny Unitas had Raymond Berry. Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Troy Aikman had Michael Irvin.
However, none of those quarterbacks have been denied the honors they have earned and neither should Warner.
2. Warner was mediocre with the Giants
That is true, however, his time in New York represents only a small portion of his career. For most of his career, he has played at a very high level.
At this point, I would think that the strengths of Warner's career outweigh the weaknesses. He has had an outstanding career with the Rams and Cardinals and should be given the recognition he deserves by being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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