After Kurt Warner threw 27 TD passes in 2007, a year in which the Arizona Cardinals went 8-8, coach Ken Whisenhunt wanted to give former Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart a chance to compete for the starting QB job in 2008.
Of course, in late August, when coach Whisenhunt finally named Warner the starter for the season opener, there were those on radio talk shows who questioned the decision.
Wasn't Leinart the franchise's quarterback? What good would the Cardinals do by starting a 37-year-old pivot? How would Leinart get any valuable NFL experience by hanging on to a clipboard every week? (And one major network listed Arizona's QB play a "weakness" in its NFL preview of the Cardinals on its Web site.)
Well, those doubters have been proven wrong, as Warner led the Cardinals to their first division title in 33 years on Sunday afternoon.
The two-time NFL MVP has thrown for at least a TD in 21 straight contests, and thanks in large part to him, will host a playoff game for the first time in 1947, long before the team relocated to the desert. The last time Warner was held without a TD pass was Nov. 4, 2007.
In fact, Warner's play (25 TDs, 4,020 yards—becoming the eighth QB in NFL history to have three or more 4,000-yard seasons) has made him one of the leading candidates to capture the MVP award this season.
While it's obvious the Cardinals' success is also thanks to the joke of a division the NFC West is, the fact remains Warner has been able to lead Arizona in games they should be winning. Sure, the Cards can't beat the NFC East (0-3), but they've gone 5-0 against their NFC West foes and are 5-1 at home.
The point is, Kurt Warner has led the Cardinals to the highest-scoring offense in the NFL thus far this season, and have now helped the team clinch a division title. He could very well win his third MVP this season to go along with the Super Bowl ring and Super Bowl MVP he's already won with St. Louis.
Yet at the start of the year, there were questions about whether or not Warner should be the starter. Much like how Warner was booted out of the Show Me State with the emergence of Marc Bulger and was benched in New York in his lone season with the Giants (2004). And of course, the quarterback controversy with Leinart.
This time though, Warner has silenced all doubters.
How could he have been doubted all along?