Kurt Warner's Grocery-Store Checker to NFL MVP Story a Tale of Perseverance

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IMay 21, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Kurt Warner #13 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on as he stands on the field after their 45-14 loss against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Louisana Superdome on January 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Next time you go to the supermarket and you have someone bagging your groceries, take a good look at that person and try to figure out if you could peg them as a professional athlete or Hall of Famer.

Believe it or not, Kurt Warner could’ve been that guy bagging your groceries.

Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the same guy who is a former NFL MVP quarterback and holds numerous records as one of the greatest playoff performers in NFL history.

Warner worked the $5.50 per hour job back in 1994 after being cut as the Green Bay Packers’ fourth-string quarterback. It looked hopeless for the struggling signal-caller, and it seemed impossible that he would one day lead “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

But it didn’t end in that grocery store in Iowa. Instead, Warner kept working to achieve his ultimate goal of being a starting NFL quarterback.

There were two things Warner never gave up on: his faith and his skills.

Warner moved on to play in the Arena Football League, where he began to flourish and then stepped up to more talented competition in NFL Europe.

It was there that Warner caught the eye of NFL scouts and finally landed a job with the St. Louis Rams and their bright yellow jerseys. He quickly made the often-maligned jerseys respectable, and after an injury sent starter Trent Green to the bench, Warner proved he belonged in the NFL with MVP-caliber play.

That season, Warner was second in the NFL in passing yards with 4,353 and led the league with 41 touchdowns and an incredible 65.1 percent completion percentage. Ultimately, Warner went on to win the MVP that season and lead the Rams to their first of two Super Bowls (won in 2000, lost in 2002).

But St. Louis began to decline as a franchise after its second trip to the Super Bowl, and so did Warner himself.

Constant interceptions and fumbling made Warner look washed-up just a few years after being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Everyone gave up on him, the Rams included, and Warner’s success was pegged as the result of the elite talent around him and not Warner himself.

Warner went on to sign with the New York Giants and continued to struggle, eventually getting pulled for the Giants' quarterback of the future, Eli Manning. I’d say it was the right move for the G-Men, but it left Warner without a job once again.

It wasn’t until the Arizona Cardinals took a chance on him that Warner showed he still had something left. Given his chance to start, Warner had one of his best seasons in 2008. He was second in the NFL with 4,583 yards, which happened to be the second-best yardage output of his entire career in a single season.

He was also tied for third with 30 touchdowns and was second with a 67.1 percent completion percentage. That percentage was also the second-best of Warner’s career.

Much like he did with the Rams, Warner took the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008 and lifted them out of the hole they had been in for the entirety of their existence.

In that Super Bowl, Warner left the field with his team in a position to win only to have it squandered by the Pittsburgh Steelers last-minute drive to win the game.

The huge numbers he put up in Arizona erased any lingering thoughts about Warner falling off. He single-handedly took the franchise to a level it had never been.

In all, Warner owns or shares multiple records, including several important ones in the postseason.  Not bad at all for a guy who used to bag groceries for minimum wage. 

Presented by MetLife. I Can Do This.