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Kurt Warner Ends His Storybook Career

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  • Kurt Warner Ends His Storybook Career

    Kurt Warner ends his storybook career

    By Jim Thomas

    He walked into the room in typical Kurt Warner style, with humility in his heart and a Bible in his hand. And then directly and with clarity announced what everyone expected: that he was retiring after 12 storybook seasons in the NFL.

    In no way did he seem conflicted about his decision. The only time he got emotional was after he brought wife Brenda and their seven children onstage at Friday's news conference in Tempe, Ariz.

    The MVP awards, the Super Bowls, the amazing statistics will always be associated with Warner. But that's not really what Warner wants as his legacy.

    "The one thing that I always want to leave people with ... is that anything is possible," Warner said. "I think that's one of the reasons that God's placed me up here and allowed me to do what I do. To encourage people out there that although sometimes it doesn't look really bright, and there's moments you want to give up ... that anything's possible.

    "I hope that when people think back on my career ... that that's what they remember more than anything else. Not the way I threw the football. Not particular games that I won. That they remember that here's a guy that believed, that worked hard, and although things didn't always go in his favor, he continued to press through. And with his faith in himself and with his faith in God, he was able to accomplish great things. That's what I want everybody to remember."

    How could we ever forget?

    From grocery store clerk in Iowa to triggerman for the Greatest Show on Turf. It was a made-for-TV movie if ever there was one. But then came the wrenching loss to New England in Warner's second Super Bowl. Injuries. The Brenda-gate controversies with Mike Martz.

    After his unceremonious release by the Rams following the 2003 season, Warner seemed lost in the wilderness career-wise with the New York Giants, and initially, with the Arizona Cardinals.

    "After leaving the Giants, it looked like that was probably it," current Rams general manager Billy Devaney said. "There were questions about him, about his thumb. And then he puts on the glove (on his throwing hand for the 2007 season)."

    And suddenly, it was vintage Warner once again, and for the second time in his career he took a woebegone franchise to the Super Bowl. Call it the rise and fall — and rise again — of Warner.

    "It's absolutely one of the most amazing stories in sports," said Charley Armey, Rams GM during most of Warner's six-year stay in St. Louis. "It probably never happens again in our lifetime."

    "It's an unbelievable story," said Dick Vermeil, head coach of the Rams' Super Bowl championship team. "No quarterback has ever done what he's done in the history of the league."

    Through it all Warner maintained his humble ways, as a trip to dinner with Vermeil a year ago in Phoenix illustrated.

    "He shows up to take me to the steakhouse in a minivan!" Vermeil said, laughing. "Here's a multi-million-dollar quarterback driving a minivan, with kids stuff inside. And he's apologizing up one side and down the other. But he says, 'Hey, I'm a family man. This fits my family just right.' He's a wonderful human being."

    It was Vermeil who gave Warner his first chance as a starter when Trent Green went down with a season-ending knee injury in preseason play in 1999. "We will rally around Kurt Warner," was Vermeil's now-famous battle cry the day after Green's injury.

    And rally they did. After nine consecutive losing seasons, the Rams went 13-3 during the '99 regular season and then defeated Tennessee 23-16 in the Super Bowl, giving St. Louis its one and only NFL championship.

    "I felt our football team was going to be a very good football team and Kurt Warner wouldn't get us beat," Vermeil said Friday. "He'd keep us in the game, and we could run the ball with Marshall Faulk and mix in the passing game. But never did I expect him to be what he ended up being."

    Warner threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns in the '99 opener against Baltimore.

    "I was like, 'Man, this guy's pretty good,' " defensive end Leonard Little recalled. "I mean, everybody was surprised."

    Little ended the 2009 season as the last remaining Rams player from that Super Bowl squad and is now contemplating retirement himself.

    "After that first game, we knew he could play," Little said. "We really trusted that he could carry our offense. We just rallied behind him, and the rest is history."

    From 1999 through 2001, the Rams went 42-13, played in two Super Bowls and scored 500-plus points all three seasons. No other team in NFL history has even posted back-to-back 500-point seasons.

    "His anticipation with the ball was just remarkable," Martz said. "His accuracy was impeccable."

    But the throws weren't always things of beauty. Early on in Warner's tenure with the Rams, Martz put a $100 bill on the wall in a meeting room. "That's yours when you throw a spiral," Martz recalled teasing Warner. "That $100 bill was on the wall all the time he was (in St. Louis). But the ball got there — dead center and on time."

    Oddly enough, two plays in St. Louis long after Warner left the Rams jump-started his revival, and then foreshadowed his retirement. In Game 5 of the 2007 season, a sack by Will Witherspoon ended Matt Leinart's season with a broken clavicle. That put Warner back in the starting lineup, wearing a glove on his throwing hand. The glove helped Warner's grip, something he had struggled with because of a chronic thumb problem from the Arena League days.

    In Game 10 of the '09 season, a hit by blitzing Oshiomogho Atogwe knocked Warner out of the game — and the following game as well — with a concussion.

    "The hit in St. Louis, I think was part of the (retirement) process," said Warner, who began to strongly consider retirement from midseason on.

    Warner now plans to concentrate on his family. He will keep his charitable foundation going, perhaps do some speaking, writing, ministry work. Maybe some football analyst work on TV or radio.

    And if all goes well, five years hence, he'll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

    "If he's not in the Hall of Fame, they're going to have to take some guys that are in there out," Vermeil said. "Because he's got (quarterback) numbers that are better than everybody there except Steve Young."

  • #2
    Re: Kurt Warner Ends His Storybook Career

    man, this never gets old....

    GO RAMS!!


    • #3
      Re: Kurt Warner Ends His Storybook Career

      Originally posted by ramsanddodgers View Post
      man, this never gets old....
      +1 never knew Warners retirement would be this big! Other than with rams fans that is.


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      • HornIt
        Balzer: Some Parts on Warner Story Not Generally Known
        by HornIt
        Some Parts on Warner Story Not Generally Known
        By Howard Balzer Tuesday, January 27, 2009

        The improbable tale of the guy who went from a bagger in a grocery store to Super Bowl MVP, disappeared from view and reemerged in the Super Bowl again, has its roots in the confidence of former Rams coach Dick Vermeil, who overruled his offensive coordinator to keep Warner on the roster in 1998.

        It is one of the rarely told stories of how Warner even earned a job in Vermeil's second season as the Rams' coach.

        Vermeil was hired by the Rams in 1997, and brought Jerry Rhome with him as offensive coordinator. As most coaches do, they have players they like to bring with them to new stops on the coaching trail. So it was that Rhome suggested the Rams sign lefthanded quarterback Will Furrer to compete for the No. 3 job on the roster.

        Furrer played well in a pre-season game against Dallas, and beat out Jamie Martin for the job. It's interesting to note that Martin was still in the league in 2008, while Furrer has been long gone.

        The following year is where this story grows intriguing. Rhome wasn't even present for a December tryout in 1997 for Warner, who had been excelling for the Arena Football League's Iowa Barnstormers.

        Al Lugenbill, head coach of the Amsterdam Admirals in the NFL's Europe league, wanted Warner for his team. But he needed an NFL team to sign him and allocate him. Other teams had varying degrees of interest, but it was the Rams that signed him a few days after Christmas because personnel director Charley Armey liked what he had seen.

        Warner went overseas and won the job in a close competition with Jake Delhomme, then with the New Orleans Saints. When he arrived for Rams training camp in July, he was competing with ... drum roll, please, ... Will Furrer. Warner showed some moxie and Vermeil recalled liking what he had seen. But there was the Rhome factor to overcome.

        As camp ended, Rhome pushed for Furrer to get the job again. But Vermeil wasn't convinced this time. He had the backing of other assistants, including Mike White, and the choice was made to cut Furrer and keep Warner.

        Where would Warner would be today had that decision not been made? No one can really say. But it seems obvious Warner wouldn't be where is today.

        The Rams were a bad football team in 1998. They were 4-12, and there were those that believed the game had passed Vermeil by. Because of injuries to Tony Banks and Steve Bono, Warner played in the season finale against San Francisco and was a non-descript 4-for-11 for 39 yards.

        Immediately after the season ended, Rhome was fired and Mike Martz was hired as offensive coordinator. So little did Martz know of Warner that when the quarterback went to Martz's office to introduce himself,...
        -01-27-2009, 07:50 PM
      • 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, 06:25 AM
      • psycho9985
        Warner on Sunday:Rams game nothing special.
        by psycho9985
        By BOB BAUM
        September 14, 2005

        TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Kurt Warner made his fame as quarterback of the St. Louis Rams, then lost his starting job before moving on.

        For the first time since that uncomfortable separation two years ago, Warner will go against the Rams, directing the Arizona Cardinals in a matchup Sunday of NFC West teams trying to avoid 0-2 starts.

        But he brushed aside any suggestion that he has added motivation for this one.

        "Of course how it all came to an end was not how I had dreamed it up and was disappointing for me," Warner said after the Cardinals' worked out Wednesday. "But how do you have any animosity for an organization that gave the opportunities that they gave me, that allowed me to fulfill a dream when nobody else would?"

        Warner's abrupt rise from an Arena Football League quarterback to NFL and Super Bowl MVP was the sport's biggest story six years ago. He was league MVP again, and the Rams made the Super Bowl, in 2001.

        But injuries slowed him in 2002, and he went down with a concussion in the opener of the 2003 season. Warner never started a game with St. Louis again, watching from the sidelines as Marc Bulger took over.

        "It had gotten to the point where we just felt like we needed a change to try and stimulate something, whether it was Kurt or whoever it was in that situation," Rams coach Mike Martz said in a conference call Wednesday. "Unfortunately, it was Kurt. And it was good for Kurt to change scenery probably and get in a different situation."

        If any hard feelings linger from those days, Warner is keeping them to himself.

        "I still love the people there. I still love the people in that organization," he said. "I still have strong feelings for so many people there that I can't say a bad word. I know you want one, but as of now I've got nothing for you."

        Warner signed with the New York Giants, and never got a chance to face the Rams last season. Now that he's with Arizona, he'll get the opportunity twice a season. His previously stated motivation for the entire season is to prove he still can be an elite quarterback.

        "That doesn't have anything to do with St. Louis," he said. "I want to prove that to everybody. That has nothing to do with this game or trying to prove it to them. I think they know as an organization what kind of quarterback I am, what I still am."

        Warner still has contact with many of his old teammates. He said he talked to Bulger on the phone Tuesday night.

        "He's doing great. It was a good conversation," Warner said. "I think...
        -09-14-2005, 06:13 PM
      • RamDez
        Kurt Warner – A Fond Farewell To A Great Man
        by RamDez
        Kurt Warner – A Fond Farewell To A Great Man
        By Barry Waller
        June 3rd, 2004

        There are times when covering an NFL team that even the biggest fan
        might find to be more work than enjoyment. Dealing with professional athletes
        is a real pain at times, and trying to give fans the true story when so many rumors have sent them into so many directions is even worse. While there are times that the words fly out of a writer’s mind onto the pages he is composing, there are others when sitting down and rehashing the facts to tell a tale is almost excruciating. If I am doing a column twenty years from now, I probably won’t have had to labor over a story as much as this one.

        Oh, sure, nobody died, no beloved sports figure met his maker far too young on the day after Memorial Day, which is the toughest stuff to cover from a personal side; but in a lot of ways, it seems like something truly died for Ramsnation when the team released Kurt Warner. When the long predicted move was made official this past Wednesday however, there was no outcry from Rams fans, no wail of sorrow at a tragic event. Not surprisingly, Warner himself left town with the same class and good feelings that are his trademark.

        Like a parent, spouse, or child who has seen a loved one slowly slip away due to illness, those of us who will never forget what #13 meant to a team and a city have little emotion left to give as the irreversible end finally came. They have gone through the same predictable emotions of anger, denial, bargaining, and depression, then a numb acceptance of our fate, as cancer victims, ever since Kurt Warner began showing he was human after all. Ironically, the most incredible and improbable feel good story in NFL history involved a man who embodies everything decent about the human animal, despite his immortal like play when at his best.

        As the negative stories and feelings about Warner as the Rams quarterback appeared, they acted upon his legacy like tumors on bodily organs, some spreading and mutating to other areas. We may never know how the negative vibes played a part in what so quickly turned a two time MVP passer into a backup. If Warner shines with the Giants, another team needing the kind of miracle that Warner gave Rams fans and the world in 1999, maybe it will provide a bit of a clue.

        I was at Warner’s last start, in the Meadowlands against those same Giants, and as painful as it was having to suffer with him on that day, and suffer the slings and arrows of Giants fans during and following the game, I feel blessed that I got to see as much as I could of Kurt Warner in person. It was that personal contact over the past six seasons that makes his inexplicable fall from grace so distressing.

        In the NFL, everyone knows the salary cap, and other factors makes it nearly impossible to keep players for entire careers, something Rams fans have had to...
        -06-06-2004, 03:38 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Bernie: Kurt Warner Writes His Own Ending
        by r8rh8rmike
        Kurt Warner writes his own ending

        Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz

        Ten years ago today, the Rams won the Super Bowl. The winning touchdown pass was a 73-yard dream from Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce that floated above the reach of the Tennessee Titans and straight into history. It was magic. One flick of Warner's right wrist, and all of those sad, sorry, losing Sundays disappeared.

        Friday afternoon, Kurt Warner said goodbye as a player. At a news conference in Arizona, No. 13 announced his retirement after 12 NFL seasons and one of the most unusual and improbable careers in the history of American sports.

        Watching it, I wanted to be sad. I wanted to turn back the clock. I wanted to make the last few seasons of Rams football go away, just as Warner and his teammates made all of those bad memories go away in 1999.

        I can't believe it's been 10 years since the 1999 season, and the rollout of "The Greatest Show on Turf," Warner to Bruce, Mike Jones and "The Tackle," and the triumph of Super Bowl XXXIV.

        But as I watched Warner explain his decision to move into another phase of his life, the melancholy lifted. Let's realize how fortunate he is. Warner leaves with his health intact to savor a fulfilling life with Brenda and their seven children. Warner exits the stage as a winner, having led futile franchises in St. Louis and Arizona to three Super Bowl trips.

        Warner departs on his terms. He isn't broken down. His skills haven't deteriorated. He didn't stay too long. Warner wasn't an aging Willie Mays losing a fly ball in the sun in 1973. He wasn't a diminished Muhammad Ali, getting battered by Larry Holmes. He wasn't Michael Jordan, fading into irrelevance in the odd colors of the Washington Wizards. He wasn't John Unitas, limping around as a San Diego Charger.

        How many star athletes know when to leave on time? Not many. A list of those who managed to pull it off includes Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Sandy Koufax, Larry Bird, Ted Williams, Ozzie Smith. Well, place Warner's name among them.

        And that's why I'm happy for Warner. He won. In a few years, he went from tossing cans of greenbeans to co-workers on the overnight shift at the Hy-Vee store to throwing the TD pass that won a Super Bowl. How many athletes realize their wildest dreams? How many athletes can retire knowing that they enhanced their sport? Or that they inspired millions of fans through their display of perseverance and personal character?

        "I wanted people to remember that anything is possible," Warner said at his news conference. "With my story, and the fact that it took me so long to get here, I know there are a lot of people that gravitate to that part of it. That understand the struggles. That ... understand when it takes a little bit longer...
        -01-30-2010, 01:15 PM