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  1. #1
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    Arrow Warner still popular in St. Louis, NFL

    Warner still popular in St. Louis, NFL
    By Kathleen Nelson
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Sep. 18 2005

    The NFL can spot a ratings bonanza a mile - or six months - away.

    The league's spider senses must have been tingling March 6, when former Rams
    and Giants quarterback Kurt Warner signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The
    schedule makers wasted no time sending the Cardinals to New York for their
    season opener and having them return home to face the Rams on Sunday.

    "It reaffirmed my idea that the league has a pretty good sense of humor,"
    Cardinals coach Dennis Green said. "I'm just surprised we're not going to St.
    Louis first. We're excited to have Kurt Warner. He's been one of the great
    success stories. I think us going to New York first and then the Rams will
    create a lot of excitement around the league, and that's the business we're
    in."

    The excitement is especially high in St. Louis. Unlike New York, where Warner
    started just nine games, St. Louis has been abuzz with Warner talk for a week.

    In reality, the chatter never has quieted completely here since his release
    from the Rams in June 2004. Nearly 18 percent of area homes with a TV were
    tuned to Warner's debut with the Giants, according to Nielsen Media Research,
    more than all but two of the baseball Cardinals' 145 regular-season games on TV
    in 2004. KTVI (Ch. 2) subsequently created an uproar when it pulled the plug
    early on the Giants' lopsided victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Following a
    deluge of calls, station manager Spencer Koch vowed to run Giants games in
    their entirety if Warner was playing.

    A second move in as many years seems to have fueled St. Louisans' passion for
    Warner.

    More than 4,000 online readers of stltoday.com responded last week to the
    question "Do you still root for Kurt Warner?" About 65 percent of the
    respondents said, "Yes! As far as I'm concerned, there should be a Kurt Warner
    statue outside the Dome." About 14 percent stated, "No! He's a rival now, and
    I'm still put off by the way he and his wife reacted when he got demoted here."

    Sales of Warner's Arizona jersey ranked No. 24 nationally for the last
    reporting period, selling more than any Rams player, according to Dan Masonson
    of the NFL. A spokesman for the Sports Fan-Attic in West County Center said the
    store quickly sold out of its initial shipment of Warner's new jersey and has
    more requests for the back-ordered jerseys than it can fill.

    Fans can find many on-field reasons for clinging to Warner's glory days. From
    1999 to 2001, the Rams scored more than 30 points a game, and Warner averaged
    nearly 300 passing yards a game. He threw 98 touchdown passes, and his passer
    rating was better than 100. He was named to the Pro Bowl each year, was the
    Associated Press MVP in 1999 and 2001, and was MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV.

    "Those were, if you want to call them, stat years because we did some amazing
    things offensively," Warner said. "The number of points we scored, the yards
    that we had, the touchdowns that I threw."

    Fans also identified with Warner's off-field story: his Midwestern roots, his
    generosity, his unassuming lack of celebrity, his Christian beliefs. Only the
    most cynical couldn't feel good when hearing his stock-boy-to-Super-Bowl story.

    "People can identify with all the dreams Kurt had as a kid that he never gave
    up on and never let go of," said Marci Pritts, executive director of the Kurt
    Warner First Things First Foundation. "He's the same person today that he was
    the day Trent Green went down."

    In many ways, he still dances with the one who brought him. Through two moves,
    Warner has kept a home and his foundation here. Pritts estimated that 40
    percent of the foundation's work benefits the area. The foundation funds trips
    to Disney World for 10 families of children with life-threatening illnesses;
    six of the families are from Missouri and Illinois. It has continued to support
    Homes for the Holidays, which provides single mothers with assistance in making
    a down payment on a home.

    Even though he was in New York last year, Warner's Warm Up managed to collect
    10,000 coats here. This year's coat drive is scheduled for Nov. 5-20, ending
    the day the Rams play the Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "Even though we knew he would leave the Rams, he was talking about expanding
    here. It wasn't 'We're moving to New Jersey,' " Pritts said. "They didn't give
    a reason, but they didn't have to. St. Louis means so much to them. It wasn't
    even a question in their minds."

    Pritts reported that Warner bought 20 tickets per home game at Giants Stadium
    to give away last year. On the road, he buys six per game. For Cardinals home
    games, he has bought 20. For the Cardinals game here, he bought 50.

    "Those were the greatest years of my life, hands down, no doubt about it,
    whether it was on the field, off the field," Warner said. "The bulk of my kids'
    lives were there. So much of me is still there. . . . I loved it there. They
    gave so much to me - the fans, the organization, the community - I'll never
    forget that. I never want to be disconnected from that."

    Of his former teammates, Warner has remained most connected to Marc Bulger, who
    stepped in when Warner was injured.

    "When I started to play, he was great," Bulger said. "When I took over, he was
    great. We don't call each other and plan when we'll talk to each other. Just
    like you have friends: You talk to them, and you don't remember when you talk
    to them. It's not like we're not going to call each other just to make it a
    good story. We might talk; we might not."

    Warner said he talks less to his former coach, Mike Martz, though still
    considers Martz a friend.

    "He's really playing at a high level right now," Martz said. "I think he's much
    further along probably than he was in New York. I think this is a much more
    familiar offense for him. He looks more comfortable with it. He's taking the
    ball down the field. He's quick with the ball. He's got some real leadership
    that you can see on that team. I'm proud of him, where he is right now. Other
    than two weeks out of the season, I hope he's spectacular."

    Warner said he wasn't sure what to expect when he greets his former teammates
    at Sun Devil Stadium on Sunday. A dozen remain from the Super Bowl championship
    team; 17 played with him in 2001.

    "I would think that it's going to be a little bit emotional with all those guys
    being over there, all those guys that I've battled with and won a championship
    with and all the old faces," he said. "But at the same time, I think it's going
    to be fun."

    But if anyone hoped that Warner would use Sunday's game as an opportunity to
    stick it to the Rams, forget about it.

    "They are the organization that let me go, but they're also the organization
    that gave me a chance to win a Super Bowl and to go to two Super Bowls and to
    fulfill my dreams," he said. "So, sorry. But there's nothing bad I've got to
    say about them.

    "Do I want to win? You bet I want to win, just like I want to win every other
    game. Maybe a little more so because now they're in our division -not because
    of any hard feelings or any animosity or because I have to prove something.
    That doesn't even enter in."



  2. #2
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    Re: Warner still popular in St. Louis, NFL

    Always will be too!

  3. #3
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    Re: Warner still popular in St. Louis, NFL

    Kurt is just a class act!!!

    steve:clanram:

  4. #4
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    Re: Warner still popular in St. Louis, NFL

    It will seem pretty wierd to hear Warners name over the RAMS radio and playing for 'other' team, yes i have moved on but it will just seem wierd....


    steve:clanram:

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