Don't Count on Kurt Warner Heading to the NFL Hall of Fame

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IMay 16, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Kurt Warner #13 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on dejected from the bench in the second half 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

Kurt Warner's first three years in the NFL were incredible. Over that span from 1999 to 2001, the St. Louis Rams went 35-8. He also helped the Rams in 1999 win the Super Bowl. 

His numbers:

1999: 325-499, 65.1 completion percentage, 4353 yards, and 41 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. Record for the Rams 13-3. 

2000: 235-347, 67.7 completion percentage, 3429 yards, and 21 touchdowns to 18 interceptions. Warner appeared in 11 games and in those games the Rams went 8-3.

2001: 375-546, 68.7 completion percentage, 4830 yards, and 36 touchdowns to 22 interceptions. The Rams went 14-2. 

The story of Warner is great having made it to the NFL after bagging groceries. Yet, great stories don't necessarily mean a player is Canton bound and Warner is not bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Does Warner have the numbers to belong with the likes of Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Warren Moon, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Fouts, and other Hall of Fame quarterbacks? The answer is no. 

What about todays quarterbacks that may get enshrined one day? Quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Peyton Manning? Does Warner's numbers measure up against those two? The answer is no? 

The reason why Warner falls short is because of what happened to him from 2002-2007 in which he missed games due to injury and poor play. Warner appeared in only 50 games out of the 96 games. That's only 52 percent of his team's games during that period of time over six years.  

Durability becomes an issue with Warner and is one of the reasons why he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. There's no question in the first three seasons that Warner played he put up tremendous numbers that are on par with the best quarterbacks of all-time, but do three seasons make a player a Hall of Famer? 

Another reason why Kurt Warner doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame was because it was proven that the only way he could succeed is if he had tremendous wide receivers with him. 

St. Louis in the three years he had plenty of weapons to utilize players such as Marshall Faulk who not only was dangerous running the football, but he was used in the passing game as well catching 87 passes out of the backfield in 1999, besides Faulk, Warner had Isaac Bruce to throw to, and the tremendously talented Torry Holt as a rookie in the year the Rams won the Super Bowl. 

For the 2000 season the Rams offered the same three weapons and Holt in his second year responded with a huge season catching 82 passes for 1635 and a 19.9 yard per catch average, there was Faulk the most dangerous running back in the NFL at the time who caught 81 passes, and Bruce was the Rams leading receiver in terms of catches with 87 for 1471 yards and a 16.9 yards per catch average. 

Finally in 2001 the last successful season for Warner in St. Louis again it was Holt leading the way in receptions with 81, yards 1363, and yards per catch average of 16.8; Faulk again caught over 80 passes out of the backfield and had another season of over 1,000 yards rushing; and Bruce had another 1,000 yard receiving. 

2002 is when the decline of Warner happened thanks to an injured pinkie. The Rams opened that season 0-5, with Warner being benched for Marc Bulger but Warner eventually came back later on in the season to appear in one more game after an injury to Bulger, but Warner didn't last after re-injuring the pinkie. 

With Warner under center the Rams went 0-6. His numbers were 144-220, 65.5 completion percentage, 1431 yards, and 3 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. 

2003 saw Warner appear in only two games suffering a concussion in the second game that cost him his season. Warner went 38-65, 58.5 completion percentage, 365 yards, and 1 touchdown to 1 interception. 

After the injuries had curtailed the career of Warner he was released by the Rams and signed to play the 2004 season with the New York Giants. Again Warner struggled and was replaced by rookie Eli Manning. 

The reason that Warner struggled was he didn't have a dominating receive core to throw to there was no Bruce, there was no Holt, and there certainly was not Faulk in the Giants backfield. 

Giants receivers were Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard neither of them led the team in receptions and both combined together to not find the end zone once that lone season with Warner at the helm. 

In his only season with the Giants Warner appeared in 10 games starting nine of those games and had a record of 5-4 in those nine starts. His numbers were far from impressive; 174-277, 62.8 completion percentage, 2054 yards, and 6 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. 

After the disaster in New York in 2004, Warner went to the NFC West to man the quarterback position for the Arizona Cardinals. The 2005 season with the Cardinals saw him appear in the most games he had been in since the 2002 season with 10, but Warner ended up missing games due to a Right MCL injury. 

With Warner under center the Cardinals went 2-8 in the 10 games. His numbers 242-375, 64.5 completion percentage, 2713 yards, and 11 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. 

That same question arises who were the receivers and running back for the Cardinals during this time? Marcel Shipp was the leading rusher for the Cardinal with 451 yards, the receivers were Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin who both caught over 100 passes. 

So, there was a talented group of receivers, but Warner at the time could not win with them in fact it took Warner until 2008 to get back on track and utilize the weapons he had. 

Another season had gone by this time in 2006 Warner again got beat out because of his poor play this time by Matt Leinart. Warner did appear in seven games but only five starts. 

In the five starts the Cardinals went 1-4. Warner went 108-168 for a completion percentage of 64.3, and 6 touchdowns to 5 interceptions.

In 2007 though Warner got his starting job back from Warner after outplaying him in camp and in the preseason. Warner appeared in 14 games while starting 11 for the Cardinals. The numbers for Warner were 281-451, 62.3 percent, 3417 yards, and 27 touchdowns to 17 interceptions.

Combining the 2002-2007 stats for Warner he went 13-29 in the starts he made. In the process he went 987-1556, 63.4 percent completion percentage, 11,357 yards, and 44 touchdowns to 47 interceptions. 

Hardly numbers that would get Warner into the Hall of Fame. His first three years in the league with the Rams saw him go for 935-1392, 67.1 percent, 12,612 yards, and 98 touchdowns to 53 interceptions. 

For the 2008 season that seemed to resurrect his career again for the Cardinals. The Cardinals made a surprise playoff run that saw the Cardinals get to the Super Bowl, but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

That season was the first time that Warner appeared in all 16 games since 2001. The Cardinals went 9-7 for the season. He went 401-598, 67.1 completion percentage, 4583 yards, and 30 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. 

The 2009 season again saw Warner appear in all 16 games. Again the Cardinals made the playoffs, but were knocked out in the second round. After the 2009 season Warner decided to retire. 

His last season in the league he went 339-513, 66.1 percent, 3753 yards, and 26 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. 

Warner did leave on a high note having much better seasons to the point he was talked about as being a Hall of Famer. His career numbers 2666-4070, 65.5 completion percentage, 32,344 yards, and 208 touchdowns to 128 interceptions. 

A Hall of Famer should not be inducted on the premise of what-if and that is exactly what is happening if Warner gets voted in.

Even in 2009 when Warner got the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, the discussion of the media became about Warner being a Hall of Famer. John Clayton at ESPN is quoted as saying "he needs to win this game" referring to the Cardinals taking on the Steelers for the Super Bowl in which the Cardinals lost. 

Viny Stellino a football writer who has a Hall of Fame vote stated "he's not even in the conversation." Again another example of Warner and the Cardinals needing to defeat the Steelers in the Super Bowl. 

If he does manage to get in it's because of writers looking at his first three years and the last two years of his career. They will not be accounting for the lack of production, the lack of games played, and the seven years of plain awfulness by Warner. 

He does have some individual accomplishments such as two MVP awards, Super Bowl MVP, being a 4-time Pro-Bowler, and a 2 time All-Pro First Team. 

Even with the individual accomplishments, the one Super Bowl ring, the MVPs, and Super Bowl MVP, Warner doesn't make it into Canton. He missed too many games either due to injury or being outplayed by a lesser quarterback. 


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