Very seldom in sports do we get the feel-good story. In fact, sports are often marred by controversy, whether it is steroids in baseball, Tiger Woods’ infidelity or Gilbert Arenas. However, in the case of Kurt Warner, we have one of the best feel-good stories possible.
To put it in simple terms, Kurt Warner’s story is that of the good guy coming out on top.
Kurt Warner’s meteoric rise to the NFL started unusually enough in a supermarket. Yes, a man who many consider to be a future Hall of Famer was once bagging groceries in a supermarket. This puts in perspective the fact that Warner’s journey into the NFL was not one with fanfare, but rather, it was a crooked line.
In his first trip to the NFL, Warner was signed as an undrafted free agent. He was then released. The next year Warner went to the Arena League. It was here that Warner would first become a star quarterback. After three seasons in the AFL, the St. Louis Rams signed him. He then decided to play a season in Europe where he performed well.
In 1999, Warner’s career took its first real good turn. In that season, Warner came out of nowhere to win the NFL’s MVP award. The improbability of that season did not stop there. The Rams, who became known as ‘The Greatest Show on Turf,” won the Super Bowl that year and Warner was the game’s MVP. It was the type of season that had people asking, ‘Who is this guy?” Warner would prove he was no fluke for two more seasons.
Then something happened. Warner started to have injuries and turnover issues. He looked for a new start with the Giants. He had some good moments but mostly struggled. The degree to which he failed to perform had many saying that he would be finished by the end of the season.
However, his career would take another turn; he went to Arizona. In his first two years, Warner continued to battle against injuries. In 2007, things changed. Warner started to look like the Kurt Warner of old. Then last season, the magic returned. The Cardinals made a Super Bowl run and even though they lost the big game, Warner played spectacularly. This past season, Warner did it one more time. He had an excellent year.
After the Arizona Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs, many waited. People knew that Warner was going to decide his future. On Jan. 29, Warner announced his retirement from football. He did so despite the fact that he signed an extension last off-season. He also did so in spite of the fact that he was still on top of his game. But this is why his decision is so easy to respect Warner walked away on his terms. He realized that he did not want to put the effort in and stepped away.
So now we have to consider Warner’s legacy. Warner’s numbers in his great years match up well with the best in the game. Add his postseason numbers into the mix and Warner makes a good case for the Hall of Fame.
Kurt Warner was the person who no one thought would make it but did. He is a rarity in that he maintains a strong faith while being in a culture that often revolts against it. Beyond all that, he is good guy who just came out on top.
He is the man of the hour. In the grand scheme of things it does not really matter whether people think he is worthy of the Hall of Fame or not. What matters is that Kurt Warner provided us with memorable moments and we will not forget his impact.
Gillenson is a member of the class of 2010.