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  • Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

    Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    11/15/2004
    Bryan Burwell
    Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bryan Burwell
    (P-D)

    Back here in Kurt Warner's adopted home town, the varying opinions on
    the cause and effects of the meteoric rise and fall of his storybook
    football life always will be blurred under so many dreamy - and
    divergent - emotional clouds. With all we know about him here, how
    exactly do we reconcile the dramatic beginning that took him from
    stocking supermarket shelves to NFL MVP to the unceremonious end that
    has dropped him from heralded Super Bowl hero to declining
    arm-for-hire?

    There always will be an unresolved emotional debate here, where the
    polarizing after-effects of his departure from the Rams still conjure
    a divisive chasm between the unadulterated Warner worshipers who
    believe he left town too early and the unapologetic Warner bashers who
    are convinced he left far too late.

    But nine games into his comeback season in New York, far removed from
    the agonizing two-year-long Rams soap opera, Warner has been benched
    again in favor of another rising young passer. And now it's time to
    face three unemotional facts:

    Warner still can play.

    Warner no longer can play at his two-time MVP level.

    The Rams kept the right quarterback.

    The evidence is there if you're objective enough to digest it. The
    more you watched Warner play, the more you knew the star of the Rams'
    glory years looks better suited for a more limited role as an aging
    backup QB.

    Giants head coach Tom Coughlin had no other choice but to bench him.
    If the Giants' offense was going to struggle, it might as well
    struggle with $46 million rookie passer Eli Manning getting some
    valuable experience.

    "(Manning) is the future of the New York Giants, it just starts now,"
    Coughlin told reporters Monday. "I really felt the last four games we
    haven't been playing well offensively. We just need to make a change."

    This is why he could make the change with a clear heart.

    In all the important categories that measure a quarterback's worth,
    Warner has settled into a mediocre existence (15th in passer
    efficiency rating, 13th in completions, 16th in pass attempts, 13th in
    completion percentage, 14th in yardage, 27th in touchdown passes, 17th
    in yards per attempt and last in times sacked). The only category in
    which he is among the NFL leaders is in fewest interceptions (fourth).

    Meanwhile, in those same categories, younger, more mobile Rams QB Marc
    Bulger is decidedly better in every category but interceptions (Bulger
    ranks anywhere from second through 10th in the same statistics). He
    isn't a top 5 quarterback yet, but there's no doubt he's among the top
    10 in the league and that Rams coach Mike Martz was smart to keep him
    and let Warner go.

    Warner had a wonderful five-game start where he looked like the NFL
    comeback player of the year. But defenses made adjustments and Warner
    and the Giants' offense began a rapid decline. In his last four games,
    he was sacked 24 times. For the season he has been sacked a staggering
    39 times. And as his play declined and the Giants' offense struggled,
    some familiar complaints started to pop up in New York. He was not
    picking up wide-open receivers, he fumbled too much and he couldn't
    get the offense moving.

    Now tell me if this doesn't sound familiar: Warner seemed to suggest
    after his benching that Coughlin was forced to make the change by an
    organization eager to see if its $46 million investment in the rookie
    was worth it.

    Maybe he's right. But can you blame them? Maybe Giants management is
    looking at the successful season the 8-1 Pittsburgh Steelers are
    having with rookie Ben Roethlisberger as a starter (the kid's 7-0),
    and certainly must be intrigued with the possibilities of their kid
    doing the same thing.

    But you just can't ignore the fact that the Giants' offense has
    stopped cold over the past four weeks. Teams keep stuffing the run,
    forcing the pass, then putting on relentless blitzes that the
    offensive line can't handle. Five years ago, Warner used to feast on
    those same blitzes. Now he just seems paralyzed by them.

    E-mail: [email protected]
    Phone: 314-340-8185

  • #2
    Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

    I would have to agree that the Rams made the right decision. I'm not sure I ever thought I would say that.

    I still think Warner is one of the best when he's given time to throw. Unfortunately, having time to throw is at a premium in this league, and if your O'line can't buy time, Warner is one of the last guys you want back there. Manning may find the same struggles with getting sacked alot.

    Maybe Kurt will come over the Rams in a couple years and hold the clipboard for Bulger and Smoker?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

      Does this guy actually get paid to write this stuff? What's the point of even writing the article? Bulger's better than Warner, look at their comparitive numbers this year. Is this supposed to be in any way objective?

      What happened to the "Warner's not a Ram, down with Warnerites" attitude? This guy's just stirring the pot and talking in circles. "Warner can still play" but "the Rams made the right choice" ?

      Ugh. I can't believe I'm even responding to this when I know he's just writing this article to either a) hear himself talk(so to speak) or b) stir the pot.

      Bad me. Bad me.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

        I think the Rams made the right decision.


        I don't think the fact that Warner has been benched provides any validation of this, though. That was bound to happen as soon as they acquired Manning.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

          So if Warner wasn't benched, did the Rams make the wrong choice?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

            Originally posted by sbramfan
            Manning may find the same struggles with getting sacked alot.
            I'm sure he will, but he's probably going to be better at moving around to successfully avoid it.


            Originally posted by moklerman
            Does this guy actually get paid to write this stuff?
            Yes, and probably pretty well.


            Originally posted by AvengerRam
            I think the Rams made the right decision.

            I don't think the fact that Warner has been benched provides any validation of this, though. That was bound to happen as soon as they acquired Manning.
            Agreed, I disagree with benching Warner now, and I don't think his being benched should be used as an indication that the Rams made the right choice. However, I firmly believe they did.


            Originally posted by r8rh8rmike
            So if Warner wasn't benched, did the Rams make the wrong choice?
            Quite an enigma, isn't it?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

              Even w/o the benching you got to look at the fact that Bulger has been sacked 24 times and that number would be higher if he did not use his legs from time to time. Warner would have the same problems with our o-line that he has in New York and the Rams would have even more turnovers something that they cannot afford. I hate to say it but if I am anything its honest, Kurt Warner will not find success in this league again, he really has seen his time. It is a shame that it took so long for him to get his chance other wise instead of rise and fall it would just be another QB getting on in years and there would be no controversy and he would be in the HOF.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

                Originally posted by LaRamsFanLongTime
                Even w/o the benching you got to look at the fact that Bulger has been sacked 24 times and that number would be higher if he did not use his legs from time to time. Warner would have the same problems with our o-line that he has in New York and the Rams would have even more turnovers something that they cannot afford. I hate to say it but if I am anything its honest, Kurt Warner will not find success in this league again, he really has seen his time. It is a shame that it took so long for him to get his chance other wise instead of rise and fall it would just be another QB getting on in years and there would be no controversy and he would be in the HOF.
                Nice perspective, LaRamsFanLongTime.

                Great post.
                Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

                  Originally posted by LaRamsFanLongTime
                  Even w/o the benching you got to look at the fact that Bulger has been sacked 24 times and that number would be higher if he did not use his legs from time to time. Warner would have the same problems with our o-line that he has in New York and the Rams would have even more turnovers something that they cannot afford. I hate to say it but if I am anything its honest, Kurt Warner will not find success in this league again, he really has seen his time. It is a shame that it took so long for him to get his chance other wise instead of rise and fall it would just be another QB getting on in years and there would be no controversy and he would be in the HOF.
                  Good post!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

                    I tell you what, I'd almost sell my body to science right now if I would be guaranteed a three year run in the NFL similar to Warner's.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

                      While we're posting articles, here's an excerpt from the latest Dr. Z article on CNNSI.com.



                      Normally if the ball isn't out in a little over three seconds, the protection will start crumbling. I put a watch on each of the 30 passes Warner threw against Arizona, plus the six sacks. Most of his passes were under three seconds, a few under two, especially when the Giants were running their scripted plays on the first two series and driving for a TD each time. A few were in the low-threes. The longest was 3.52, when he had to scramble to his left and re-adjust.

                      I timed the sacks by cutting off my watch when he gave up on the play and bailed ... scrambled for what he could get ... and all but two were in the low-to-mid-three second range. The others were in the two's. That's right, that's how quickly the blockers were whipped. No quarterback could function under that kind of pressure.


                      Even I'm not obsessed enough to sit down and time all the passing plays but I appreciate the effort he put into it. In this particular game it appears to me that Warner may not have been holding the ball as much as people have been claiming. Did he miss some open receivers? Apparently. Did he play perfectly? No. Is there hope for me that he might not be as finished as people think? I think so.

                      I happen to think he's playing behind the worst offensive line in football right now and there are a lot of other factors that lead me to consider the possibility of him having a couple more good years if he's on a team that isn't in shambles. Of course, if Eli comes in and tears it up, especially against defenses a lot tougher than what Kurt faced with the Giants, I might have to actually start making preperations to give up on him myself.

                      I am curious, and will probably never know, how vehement Coughlin was about not throwing any interceptions. I've been saying all year that Warner looks like he's playing like he's afraid to make a mistake. If that's the case then I definately have hope for him. If he's just lost his nerve and/or confidence in his "fastball" then there's not much to look forward to.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

                        Mok, I think Warner's gotten a raw deal and is indeed being made the scapegoat for the Giant offensive line as well as the overall play of the offense. Like you, if Eli Manning is able to produce with the same tools Warner had to work with, I may have to admit Warner's best days are far behind him. I'm almost positive I won't have to do that though. My guess is we will see Warner soon, but then again, Coughlin is the type that may choose to keep him off the field at all costs to save face.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

                          I find it hilarious you are one of the first to post and pat Warner on the back though moklerman...especially after a post like this for Bulger...

                          Talking about whining!? Maybe you should step back and look how some people may feel about Bulger and why they feel the way the do about Warner. Talk about not getting a fair shot, or able to sing praise without getting jumped.

                          moklerman wrote:
                          "And this type of thread is partly why I was so down on the whole Bulger situation last year. Bulger's doing great. We all think so. We've all said so. We've all agreed with each other about thinking so.

                          But we have to have a thread whining about how he isn't praised "enough"? Wah, wah, wah, people aren't praising Bulger enough. I've heard many people complain about the continuing conversations about Warner but they never seem to stop bringing him up as a weapon against those of us who are fans of his.

                          Some people make it hard to root for the guy. "Hey, Bulger's doing great. Nothing to complain about. He's got nothing to do with the problems the Rams have had on offense. He's improved his deep ball. He's improved his decision making. He's making improvements to all facets of his game."

                          Pagan! Heathen! Warnerite! You've shall bow down and toss Bulger's salad. And you still won't be worthy!"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

                            Well, that' the difference isn't it? I'm questioning whether or not Warner is actually having the trouble that led him to be benched. Bulgerites are *****ing because Bulger doesn't get enough praise. I find the timing interesting in you little post too. Very interesting that the week Warner get's benched you start a thread whining about people not giving enough love to Bulger.

                            You might say: "Well, it's because Bulger had a good week" against Seattle. You're right, 250+ yards, 1 td, no int., no fumbles is a good week. Bulger played well and the Rams won. Here's the thing though, Warner put up the same numbers and because he's on a crapola team, he get's benched. Warner fan or Bulger fan, the two qb's put up the same stats, with different teams and they are treated by fans and the press in very contrary ways.

                            Bulgerites feel persecuted because people aren't as big of fans of Bulger as they were of Warner. I understand your pain but I also have to tell you to either be patient or shut up about it. Bulger hasn't qb'd and won the big one yet. Not even a playoff game yet. His time hasn't come when it comes to fandom. When or if he leads the team to some postseason wins he will get his due praise. But, as a Warner fan, I can honestly and objectively say: "don't start comparing yet, Bulger isn't on equal ground with Warner(in terms of accomplishments and deserved fandom/accolades)".

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Warner's benching shows that Rams made right choice - PD

                              Originally posted by moklerman
                              You might say: "Well, it's because Bulger had a good week" against Seattle. You're right, 250+ yards, 1 td, no int., no fumbles is a good week. Bulger played well and the Rams won. Here's the thing though, Warner put up the same numbers and because he's on a crapola team, he get's benched. Warner fan or Bulger fan, the two qb's put up the same stats, with different teams and they are treated by fans and the press in very contrary ways.
                              A minor point - they didn't put up the same stats. Warner threw for under 200 yards and completed a lower percentage of passes with fewer yards per attempt.

                              Comment

                              Related Topics

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                              • Nick
                                Footballguys.com Analysis of Warner Situation
                                by Nick
                                Fantasy Notebook: Fool Me Once, Shame On You. ...
                                By Bob Harris - Senior NFL Analyst - Footballguys.com

                                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
                                better.

                                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
                              • Nick
                                Won't Get Any Better for Kurt / Newsday.com
                                by Nick
                                Won't get any better for Kurt
                                Bob Glauber
                                Friday, June 4, 2004

                                Yes, even Kurt Warner can't figure out how it has come to this: How one minute, he was the most incredible story in pro sports, the stockboy-at-the-local-HyVee-turned-Super Bowl hero. And how the next minute, he was wearing a headset and a blank stare, wondering where in the world it all went wrong.

                                "Sometimes you just sit back and say, 'Wow, how did I get here?'" the former St. Louis Rams quarterback said yesterday. "You wonder where it's going."

                                Warner hopes it's going back in the other direction, that the pendulum will begin to swing in the direction of a Super Bowl now that he has left the wonder and heartbreak of the Rams behind and come to the Giants. He believes he again can be the dominant quarterback he was from 1999-2001, when he won a Super Bowl, went to another, collected two NFL MVP trophies and was named a Super Bowl MVP.

                                Sorry, Kurt, I have my doubts.

                                "I think that two or three years down the road, it's all going to make sense, and that a lot is going to be accomplished," he said. "Sometimes it's hard to make sense of it, but all I can do is take it day by day and see what tomorrow brings."

                                Warner's enthusiasm is understandable in light of his experience the last two seasons, in which he failed to win any of his eight starts, suffered three broken bones in his throwing hand and a concussion, and ultimately lost his job.

                                But Warner is kidding himself if he thinks he can get back to where he once was.

                                He certainly gives the Giants a chance to win more games than if No. 1 pick Eli Manning were thrown into the starting lineup right away. But to imagine Warner throwing darts the way he did with The Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis is simply unrealistic.

                                Once he steps onto the field against the blitz-happy Eagles in the regular-season opener Sept. 12, you will see the same problems that led to Warner's fall from grace. You will see him lock on to receivers the way he did during his difficult times in St. Louis. You will see him get jittery under a heavy rush. And with the shaky offensive line the Giants figure to have, Warner certainly can't expect the kind of protection that once gave him time in his seven-step drops to fuel the Rams' high-octane attack. It doesn't help that the Giants are without the collective speed and talent around Warner that he enjoyed with the Rams.

                                Warner can't possibly be as bad as he was in last year's opener against the Giants, when he fumbled six times and suffered six sacks. A mild concussion can explain some of those problems, but certainly not all.

                                One player who was with the Rams during their two Super Bowl seasons said Warner slowed down noticeably in recent years, that he was not making on-field decisions as quickly as...
                                -06-04-2004, 11:55 AM
                              • WisRamsFan
                                Warner in the correct forum
                                by WisRamsFan
                                Warner becomes caretaker QB until Manning ready

                                By TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
                                June 3, 2004
                                EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New York Giants are taking some of the pressure off Eli Manning , signing Kurt Warner to be their caretaker quarterback until the top pick in the draft is ready to take over.

                                While the two-time MVP got a two-year contract late Wednesday that will pay him a minimum of $3.5 million this year, there is no guarantee the two-time NFL MVP will play for the Giants for more than a year.

                                When Manning is ready to go, he will be the Giants' quarterback.

                                ADVERTISEMENT


                                Until then, the job seemingly belongs to Warner, the soon-to-be 33-year-old who led the St. Louis Rams to Super Bowl appearances after the 1999 and 2001 seasons. Injuries and the emergence of Marc Bulger earned him a pink slip on Tuesday.

                                ``I am looking to come in and to play and to re-establish myself,'' Warner said at Thursday, hours after his first practice. ``I would love this to be where I finish my career.''

                                Warner has incentives that can push his salary to $8 million this season. However, the second year of his contract is voidable and his tenure may well be determined by Manning's progress in his rookie season.

                                ``I don't want to keep moving and picking up my family,'' Warner added. ``I want to continue to have success. I would love it to be here in New York and I will do whatever in my time here to be successful. We'll just see what happens.''

                                ``Obviously Manning is there, but this is New York and if Kurt wins, they are not going to want him to leave,'' said Mark Bartelstein, Warner's agent.

                                The signing takes a ton of pressure off Manning.

                                The son of Archie Manning and the brother of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning became the Giants' starting quarterback when Kerry Collins refused to take a pay cut and was released less than a week after New York got the No. 1 pick in a draft-day trade with San Diego.

                                Manning, who has known for weeks the Giants planned to sign a veteran, still plans on competing for the starting job.

                                ``I don't know if this takes the pressure off,'' Manning said. ``I don't know if anything has changed in my view. I am still going to practice just as hard as ever. I want to be ready.''

                                Manning and Warner spoke for a few minutes on Thursday. Warner plans to tutor Manning, just as he did with Bulger in St. Louis.

                                ``To teach a guy the little things and have him become a better quarterback was fun for me, as frustrating as it was not playing,'' Warner said. ``But I look forward to helping any way I can.''

                                Warner also is looking forward to playing again. He suffered a concussion in a season-opening loss to the Giants last season and did not start for the rest of the year. He...
                                -06-03-2004, 03:58 PM
                              • Yodude
                                Insider: Warner earns vindication, another turn on top
                                by Yodude
                                Oct. 13, 2004
                                By Pete Prisco
                                SportsLine.com Senior Writer
                                Tell Pete your opinion!



                                Insider | Notebook | Mailbag
                                New York Giants quarterback Kurt Warner is on a cell phone, driving somewhere in New Jersey, talking about his new team and his new situation. As he speaks, he sounds more upbeat than he has in years, which is saying something because this is one happy dude.

                                "I'm loving it here," Warner said.


                                Showing vintage form so far, Kurt Warner is proving just how little his critics know.
                                Why wouldn't he? This was a man who was written off the past year, many speculating that his time at the top had come and gone. They said his 15 minutes of fame were over.

                                That feel-good story of grocery stock boy to league MVP was nice at the time, but as quick as he rose to the top, it was sure to be followed by talk that he would fall just as fast.

                                Washed up. Over. Done. Finished.

                                Warner heard it all the past couple of seasons, the talk growing from murmurs into a full-blown amplified beat by late last season in St. Louis. Forget his two MVP awards he won with the Rams. Forget his Super Bowl victory after the 1999 season. Forget all the passing numbers.

                                The doubters, including the St. Louis Rams coaches, insisted his time was up.

                                "I guess it's unprecedented what happened to me," Warner said. "To go from where I was to the last two years, it's hard to make sense of it. People formed an opinion on what was wrong with me and they all seemed to jump on the bandwagon. It was easy to come to the conclusion that I wasn't the same player based on the past couple of years. But I never put a lot of stock in what people were saying. I knew what I was capable of doing. The bottom line for me has not been what people think about me, but what the people in my locker room and in the organization think about me. I knew I could still play and still win."

                                He's doing both, too.

                                The Giants are the surprise team of the first five weeks, winning four consecutive games after losing their opener to the Eagles. At 4-1, heading into their bye week Sunday, they are a half game behind Philadelphia in the NFC East.

                                Warner is big reason for the success.


                                So much for his just keeping the seat warm until rookie first-round pick Eli Manning takes over. Warner isn't going anywhere. Not the way he's playing. There had been some talk that Warner would keep the spot until the bye week, and then hand the keys to the car over to the younger kid. That's laughable now.


                                Warner may not be putting up the huge numbers he did with the Rams from 1999-2001, but he is running the offense with precision, he's taking care of the ball and he's getting it out on time.

                                Through...
                                -10-17-2004, 09:21 AM
                              • Nick
                                Warner must prove he can still produce - Pasquarelli
                                by Nick
                                Warner must prove he can still produce
                                By Len Pasquarelli
                                ESPN.com


                                The Giants are hoping that Kurt Warner will take better care of the ball.

                                On the New York Giants' Web site Thursday morning, a hastily photographed digital image of the franchise's newest starting quarterback appeared -- Kurt Warner in a red practice jersey bearing his familiar No. 13.

                                Given the recent performance of the all-time league leader in passing efficiency -- remember, this is a player who hasn't won a game as a starter since 2001 -- both the color of the practice shirt and the numerals emblazoned on the front and back of it might, alas, prove pretty appropriate.

                                The Giants are hoping that Kurt Warner will take better care of the ball.
                                The Giants wear blue uniforms, of course, and the red practice jersey is a universal "don't touch" cautionary measure designed to keep pass rushers from jostling the quarterback. As for the No. 13, well, surely the most non-superstitious among us understands its ominous implications. Even the great Dan Marino, who also thumbed his nose at fate by donning No. 13 for all 17 of his mostly brilliant seasons, eventually could not elude the misfortune attached to those dire digits.

                                And so, while we hope we're wrong about this, given that Warner is a good guy and one who couldn't depart St. Louis before first passing through the Rams' complex to visit with the people who served as his support group for six seasons, that red practice shirt and the No. 13 represent an ominous beginning to the next chapter of his career.

                                During an afternoon news conference, a smiling Warner noted Giants officials were kind enough to allow him to retain his favorite uniform number. Maybe a change of scenery, though, begged for a change from the recently cursed 13. Warner also noted that, after starting just one game in 2003, it is time to get his feet wet again. But should he spend much of '04 submerged beneath the opposition pass rush, desperately trying to tread water behind New York's remodeled offensive line, Warner might someday look back on the irony of his words.

                                Make no mistake, signing Warner to a two-year contract worth $9.5 million -- which, in reality, is a one-year deal at $3 million, since the second year is voidable -- was a solid enough gamble by New York. But there is no mistaking as well that Warner, who will turn 33 in a couple weeks and who was sacked six times while throwing but one touchdown pass in 2003, isn't the same guy who claimed two league MVP awards and led the Rams to a Super Bowl XXXIV championship.

                                Once the ego of Kerry Collins kept him from collecting a $7 million paycheck this year for introducing the Tutor Dynasty at Giants Stadium, serving as a grizzled starter/mentor to Eli Manning, the team sought Neil O'Donnell for that position. When he declined, and it became clear Warner...
                                -06-08-2004, 10:52 AM
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