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Warner's the man, at least to Warner

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  • Warner's the man, at least to Warner

    Warner's the man, at least to Warner

    First published: Thursday, August 19, 2004

    ALBANY -- He's still the quarterback who takes teams to Olympus. Still the quarterback whose passing statistics are a fantasy of flight. Still the quarterback whose grocery-bags-to-NFL-MVP story felt as good as a kiss.
    Kurt Warner is convinced of this.

    He's gone from superstar to waiver wire. Untouchable to unwanted. At the end in St. Louis, the Rams were as eager to show Warner the door as he was to pass through it. He was signed by the Giants to be a mentor and stopgap, until Eli Manning is ready. Everything in Warner's career has changed -- but him, he insists.

    In nearly every player's career there comes a time when his skills, as Bill Belichick once said of Bernie Kosar's, diminish. Age and injuries make mortals of all. The player knows when he enters the winter of his career, but he won't publicly admit it.

    Warner, now 33, says he's the same quarterback, and because he's friendly, and gracious with his time, you want to believe him.

    But you don't.

    Once, Warner led the Greatest Show on Turf. Now, he's trying to hold Manning at bay long enough to audition for a starting job with another team next season. That's not the same at all.

    There has never been an NFL player like Kurt Warner. From stock boy to wonder boy to oh boy, what happened. It would be as if Greg Maddux had gone from video store clerk to Cy Young control artist to a pitcher who stopped throwing strikes, though Warner doesn't see it that way. The Rams' 0-8 record in his last eight games as a starter didn't change Warner's opinion of himself.

    "You have to say, 'Did Kurt Warner lose those eight games because Kurt Warner didn't play well, or did the Rams lose those last eight games because the team didn't play well?' " Warner said. "I think that's where people sometimes get skewed in their opinion."

    Warner doesn't mention that the Rams were 18-4 the past two seasons when Marc Bulger started at quarterback. Granted, win-loss percentage isn't everything. But it's something. And playing on the same team, with the same players, Bulger enjoyed success while Warner flopped. But if Warner's fumbling 14 times and throwing 11 interceptions with only four touchdowns in those eight games have cracked his confidence, he conceals it behind his disarming smile.

    "I feel like I can play as well as anybody in this league," Warner said. "I can still play this game. I don't plan on being average."

    Thing is, average would be an improvement.

    One trait players like in their quarterback: accountability. They respect a guy who accepts criticism when warranted and shares praise when deserved. But in a recent conversation, this is as close as Warner came to acknowledging he performed poorly the past two seasons in St. Louis.

    "I don't think that there's things in those last eight games that I played in that let you say, 'Well, I guess I can't play this game anymore,' " Warner said. "I didn't play it differently. I wasn't less aggressive. I still made plays in all those games; it's just, it's a team thing. When I was going good, my team was going great. I had great talent around me; guys who were making plays. When we weren't going good, we weren't playing that well as a team. We were making mistakes as a team; I was doing my part."

    The sprained thumb and twice-broken pinkie and fracture in his throwing hand have healed, Warner says, and don't impair his passing. Just as the hits he absorbed, waiting until the last possible moment so a receiver could separate, haven't affected how he reacts to a pass rush.

    Tonight we watch Kurt Warner compete for the Giants' quarterback job. But it's not the same. At all.

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Warner article--sure to drum up a debate. Interesting read
    by RamWraith
    Just like with Rams and Giants, Warner out to prove critics wrong
    By Darren Urban, Tribune

    The resumé is too long for the story to begin where it once did. Kurt Warner knows that.
    His past is decorated with two MVP awards, three Pro Bowls, two Super Bowl appearances and a St. Louis fan base that still follows him two stops later.

    Warner is no longer the nobody who took over at quarterback for the Rams in 1999, but in some ways, he is starting over.

    He has more doubters than believers, which is where he stood that day St. Louis coach Dick Vermeil made him the starter after Trent Green's season-ending knee injury almost six years ago.

    And like his Rams back then, his new team in Arizona carries few expectations.

    "There are a lot of people out there that don't think I can still play, and there's a lot of people out there that don't think this team has a chance to do anything," Warner said. The statistics haven't been gaudy for three years, and for Warner, his history has become his burden. But it is also his proof.

    "There has never been a story like Kurt Warner's," Cardinals coach Dennis Green said. "It's a result of him believing in himself." Warner still believes. He believes that winning football, if not video game-like stats, remains in him.

    He believes politics dragged him out of the lineup with both the Rams and the New York Giants. He believes he will be reborn as an NFL starter with the Cardinals this season. And he believes he has lived this scenario before. "It's kind of my story, the underdog story, no chance to have success," Warner said. "It's kind of like what I stepped into in St. Louis.

    "I get a chance to rewrite my story, and I get a chance to hopefully rewrite the story of the Arizona Cardinals."


    The first version of Warner's story came straight from Hollywood.

    He was nowhere, bagging groceries at one point after college, eventually thinking a successful arena football career in his native Iowa was as far as the dream might go. Then, in one stunning two-year period, he rose from Iowa Barnstormer to St. Louis Ram as ringleader of the "Greatest Show on Turf."

    "St. Louis football was dog meat for so long," longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz said. "Then this mythical character out of a W.P. Kinsella novel walks out of the Iowa cornfields."

    He won a Super Bowl that first season as a starter. He set team records. He was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. And he was a good person, friendly almost to a fault, a sports hero fans could feel good about embracing.

    Warner was going to be a Ram forever.

    That he isn't now, "flabbergasts me a little bit," Warner
    -05-14-2005, 07:25 AM
  • Nick Analysis of Warner Situation
    by Nick
    Fantasy Notebook: Fool Me Once, Shame On You. ...
    By Bob Harris - Senior NFL Analyst -

    Well, the latest reports filtering out of the Big Apple say Kurt Warner
    looked sharp during his initial mini-camp workouts this week. His passes
    were crisp and mostly on target. But as New York Daily News staffer Ralph
    Vacchiano noted, the surprise was that Eli Manning's passes looked even

    After struggling through his first mini-camp as a pro early last month,
    Manning put all that behind him Monday with a much-improved performance
    that caught the eyes of his coaches and teammates.

    According to Vacchiano, "his command in the huddle was better and he had a
    much greater knowledge of the offense. And as a result, he was able to
    show off the right arm that the Giants worked so hard to acquire in their
    blockbuster draft-day trade."

    Wow. Sounds pretty darned good. ...

    Unfortunately, Manning didn't fare as well Tuesday. Which should come as
    no surprise. Once again, we're talking about a rookie trying to get up to
    speed at the league's most difficult position to master.

    Which is why, I suspect, we'll see a growing media drumbeat surrounding
    the Warner/Manning competition with Warner putting increasing pressure on
    his younger teammate as he becomes familiar with the Giants' system and
    his NFL MVP experience begins to factor into the equation.

    But that doesn't mean I believe Warner is the best man for this job. Nor
    am I sure he's not. And I'm not alone in my confusion.

    In fact, after reviewing some of the opinions being floated by those "in
    the know," I've come to the conclusion that Warner is as mysterious to the
    rest of the world as he is to me.

    A sampling follows. ...

    In an article published Monday, Sports Illustrated insider Peter King
    advised readers: "I think Kurt Warner, whatever happens, will be a team
    player and will help Eli Manning as much as he can with the Giants. Warner
    is one of the few people I know in football who truly would help the guy
    behind him even if it meant it might hurt his situation."

    But former Giants quarterback Phil Simms disagreed.

    "The perfect guy (for the Giants) was Neil O'Donnell," Simms told the
    Newark Star-Ledger. "It's not a knock against Kurt, but the agendas are
    different. Kurt Warner still wants to be a franchise quarterback. He wants
    to be the guy. ... Kurt Warner will give information to Eli, but he's
    going to be more concerned about his performance, his knowledge and what
    he's doing."

    Another Sports Illustrated writer, NFL guru Paul Zimmerman, took things a
    step further,...
    -06-13-2004, 09:36 PM
  • masi
    Warner vs. Marino
    by masi
    Yesterday i had a discussion with a friend who is a huge Dan Marino's fan. He said that Dan's records will never nbe broken and that our Kurt Warner should be renamed Kurt "one-year-wonder" Warner, because he'll not be able to repeat 1999 and 2000 numbers.
    I think Kurt has all the skills to reach and surpass most of the Marino achievements, and i'm realy convinced that without the injury, a lot of Marino's record would have already be broken last season.

    And... Kurt has one thing marino will never have: a ring :cool: :cool: :cool:
    -06-18-2001, 01:54 PM
  • Yodude
    Don't bet against Warner.....
    by Yodude
    Don't bet against Warner reviving his career in Arizona

    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist

    Kurt Warner’s gambit paid off.

    The former Rams hero signed with the New York Giants as the interim starter for last season. He agreed to direct that offense on a temporary basis while prized prospect Eli Manning learned the ropes.

    All along, Warner’s role was to mentor the kid. At some point, he knew that Manning would take his job. The Giants traded the farm for the kid, then paid him all the money in the world. His ascension was not a matter of if, but when.

    Kurt also knew the Giants had offensive shortcomings that would make this assignment doubly hard. But this was arguably his only guaranteed shot to re-establish himself in 2004, so he took it.

    Warner accomplished just enough to earn a real opportunity -– to quarterback the Arizona Cardinals in 2005, with no strings attached.

    Warner insists he is ready. He believes he can play for another five or six years. He promises the world that he still has game.

    “I still feel like I have a lot left,” Warner told ESPN Radio. “I wanted to be on the field. I wanted to be in a situation where, for the most part, I controlled my own destiny.”

    He flashed some of his old magic with the Giants last season, particularly earlier in his nine-game stint. The team was far more successful with him at the helm than Manning.

    “Obviously, I hated to be taken out,” Warner said. “Two weeks before I got pulled, we were sitting at 5-2. We were the second-best team in the NFC. Obviously, the next two weeks we didn’t play as well as we would have liked to.”

    But, he added, “In every single game we were competitive, we gave ourselves a chance to win.”

    Warner completed 174 of 277 passes for 2,054 yards last season. He threw six touchdown passes and four interceptions. His passer rating was 86.5. He finished with a 5-4 record as a starter.

    By contrast, Manning won just one game as a starter. He completed 95 of 197 passes for 1,043 yards, six touchdowns and nine interceptions. His passer rating was, ahem, 55.4.

    The benching, Warner said, “was unfortunate at the time. In the long-run, it was beneficial to me.”

    Manning’s dismal play and the Giants’ offensive demise put Warner’s so-so play in context. “People could see how well I was playing, or playing within that role,” he said. “I think my stock actually rose after that time.”

    What if Warner had finished out the season as starter?

    “My stats wouldn’t have been that good,” he said. “We would have finished 8-8, 9-7.”

    Many experts, though, argue that No. 13 is done. They point to his later work with the Giants, when he became tentative in the pocket and absorbed...
    -03-09-2005, 03:56 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Bernie: Kurt Warner Has Every Reason To Retire Now
    by r8rh8rmike
    Kurt Warner has every reason to retire now

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz

    When Kurt Warner got mashed into the ground on a vicious but clean hit by New Orleans defensive end Bobby McCray, I automatically assumed the worst.

    That's it.

    We've just seen the end of Kurt's career.

    And what a horrible, depressing way for him to go.

    What were we supposed to think? Warner was rolling around on the turf, eyes blinking. He seemed disoriented. He was in pain. He's 38 years old. He's endured multiple injuries in his career, including five concussions. The Saints were already up by two touchdowns in the second quarter of this NFC playoff game, and would go on to win by 31.

    When Warner threw that interception, looked to make a tackle, and ended up blind-sided by McCray, it appeared to be the final blow.

    Fortunately, the immediate repercussions weren't as severe as feared. Warner was shaken up, but returned in the second half. That's good, but it still doesn't ease the big-picture fears and the concerns over Warner's long-term health and future.

    I hope Warner will walk away from the game. What else does he have to prove? I believe he's already done enough to warrant selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Just look at a partial list of all that he's accomplished since entering the NFL with the Rams in 1998: Two-time league MVP with the Rams; Super Bowl MVP and championship with the Rams; three-highest passing-yardage days in Super Bowl history; 52 300-yard games; the only NFL quarterback to throw 100 touchdown passes for two teams; nine postseason victories; the second-best passer rating (102.8) in NFL postseason history; and guiding two down-and-out franchises to the Super Bowl.

    There's nothing left for Warner to gain, but he has much to lose. Kurt and wife Brenda have seven children at home. As Warner told me in an interview earlier this year, he wants to be healthy and vibrant and immersed in their lives.

    Warner wants to enjoy being a grandfather some day — and without limitations brought on by football-related debilitation. Warner has given 11 years of his life to the NFL but says he wants to be sure that the best years of his life to go to his family.

    And it won't be easy for Warner to continue rebounding from injuries. After all, it took him a few years to recover from the hand injuries, concussions and harsh beatings he took in St. Louis before finally regenerating his career in Arizona. And Warner was younger then. He'll be 39 if he chooses to play the 2010 season.

    Last fall, the results of a preliminary study commissioned by the NFL indicated that former NFL players have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or similar memory-related diseases at a dramatically higher rate than the national...
    -01-18-2010, 12:55 PM