No announcement yet.

Warner made the most of his short time in St. Louis

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Warner made the most of his short time in St. Louis

    Jeff Gordon
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist

    St. Louis lost one of its all-time sports heroes Tuesday afternoon when the Rams gave Kurt Warner the short haircut.

    For sure, Warner's run was short. But what he accomplished during a glorious three-year span — two NFC Championships, one Super Bowl triumph, two regular season MVP awards, one Super Bowl MVP — made him an historic figure in this town.

    He accomplished more during his short term as Rams quarterback than all the great Gridbirds from the old days. I'd argue that Warner is the second-greatest St. Louis pro football player ever, right behind running back (and fellow champion) Marshall Faulk.

    Warner won it all here. He won it all with an epic performance, too, leading the Rams past the Tennessee Titans in that spectacular Super Bowl 34.

    On North America's greatest sports stage, he delivered the ultimate clutch performance. How can anybody ever top that?

    Let's face it, St. Louis teams seldom win it all. The Cardinals haven't won it all since 1982, despite the best efforts of managers Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and a legion of great players.

    The Blues have never won it all. Bill Bidwill's football Cardinals obviously failed to win it all, too.

    In these parts, we see a world championship about as often as we see a comet. And for St. Louis to see a World Championship won in such wildly entertaining fashion . . . well, that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    What Warner did at the helm of that '99 Rams team is the stuff of legends. He came from nowhere, an unheralded back-up quarterback liberated from the Arena Football League and NFL Europe.

    Each generation of athletes produces storybook figures, but Warner may have been the greatest of them all. A former grocery store stock boy took the NFL's most pathetic franchise and led it to the top, revolutionizing pro offenses in the process.

    Had Trent Green not suffered his catastrophic preseason knee injury, he might have passed through the league without making a bit of noise. He might have ended up back in the grocery store, stocking shelves.

    Opportunity finally knocked, however, and Warner lived the dream that keeps every spare player going.

    All those yards, all those touchdowns, all that drama at the end of the NFC title game and the Super Bowl -- who could ever match those highs? I'd argue that no NFL quarterback has EVER had the year Warner had with that team, given all the circumstances.

    Warner nearly did it again in '01, once again leading the Rams to the Super Bowl with a monstrous offensive performance. But then the feisty New England Patriots ruined everything with their Super Bowl 36 upset and the Rams haven't quite been the same since.

    Perhaps Warner's injury-related struggles in '02 tarnished his image with some fans. Perhaps his benching last season after one fumble-filled performance at Giants Stadium cost him his icon standing with many.

    Perhaps Brenda Warner's weird outbursts and Kurt's own Biblegate controversy made some fans eager to the turn the page. Perhaps Marc Bulger's 18-4 regular-season record prompted many fans to jilt Kurt to rally around The Next New Thing.

    But what Warner did for this franchise and this city will loom large for decades to come. He set a performance bar so high in this town that no future Ram may ever reach it.

    An era ended Tuesday, an era none of us will ever forget.
    Attached Files

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

Related Topics


  • r8rh8rmike
    Kurt Warner Ends His Storybook Career
    by r8rh8rmike
    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...
    -01-30-2010, 02:10 PM
  • RamFan_Til_I_Die
    Faith driving Warner in another Super Bowl pursuit
    by RamFan_Til_I_Die
    Faith driving Warner in another Super Bowl pursuit
    by Mark Kriegel FOXSports

    I'm less than comfortable with the apparent epidemic of religiosity among our nation's quarterbacks.

    First, Colt McCoy, fresh from a thrilling win over Ohio State, begins his post-game comments by thanking his "lord and savior Jesus Christ."

    Then there's Tim Tebow, whose game and demeanor I rather like, changing the Bible verse he endorses on his eye-black, from "Philippians 4:13" to "John 3:16." As if that might make the difference.

    Personally, my own taste in quarterbacks runs toward the epic old-school debauchers, guys like Kenny Stabler and Joe Namath. If I go to Hell for that, then so be it. I refuse to believe that God — anyone's God — has a rooting interest in the outcome of something as secular and perverse as a BCS game.

    But now football fans direct their attentions to Arizona, where one of American sports' most prominent God Squaders — Arizona Cardinal quarterback Kurt Warner — takes on the Philadelphia Eagles for the right to go to the Super Bowl. And I can't help but think that the religious guys are, well, blessed with an advantage, a big one at that.

    Actually, the issue isn't really religion. It's faith. I don't care what or whom a ballplayer believes in: Jesus, Moses, Buddha, L. Ron Hubbard. I don't care what his position is on stem cell research, abortion, gay rights. But a system of belief — any system, really — that stills the mind and quells doubt is of obvious benefit, particularly if you're an athlete.

    Warner's case is as instructive as it is well-known. In 1994, after being cut by the Green Bay Packers, he found himself working the nightshift at a Hy-Vee grocery store near his alma mater, that noted football factory known as Northern Iowa. By 1999, he'd won a Super Bowl ring and the first of his two MVP awards.

    His appearance as the starter in Sunday's NFC championship game marks yet another absurdly improbable comeback. Warner had been let go by the Rams and the Giants. His career as anything but a spot starter had been pronounced dead years ago. In his several years in Arizona, he's been a backup to Josh McCown and Matt Leinart, who was named the starter for the 2008 season. Now, having thrown for more than 5,000 yards this season, Warner has a chance to deliver the Cardinals — the Cardinals! — to the Super Bowl.

    On some cognitive level, Warner had to know what the rest of us understood too well. Grocery clerks don't often make it to the NFL. Iowa Barnstormers don't go on to become Super Bowl MVPs. Nor do old men beat out Heisman Trophy winners. For Warner to have considered his predicaments in rational terms might well have killed his dream. Statistical analysis frequently inflicts a death by discouragement. But, then, a guy like Warner isn't playing the odds. He's working...
    -01-16-2009, 10:37 PM
  • psycho9985
    Warner on Sunday:Rams game nothing special.
    by psycho9985
    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, 07:13 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, 04:38 AM
  • 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, 08:50 PM