No Hall Of Fame For Cardinal QB
Wednesday - February 11, 2009
The warm-up to the Super Bowl is typically endowed with pronouncements of greatness and the exploitation of memory in an effort to create public adoration and legend from the merely ordinary. Much like “The Catch,” which forever solidified Dwight Clark’s place among the pantheon of Sunday superhero worship, the drive to immortalize circa 2009 went out of its way to convince us that a journeyman quarterback with three great years out of 11 was the rebirth of Y. A. Tittle.
Kurt Warner is not a Hall-of-Famer, just as Clark’s catch was simply a wide-open pass tossed high for the benefit of the 6-foot-4-inch receiver, who dwarfed the tailing defensive back and who enjoyed an empty five yards of end zone in front of him.
It’s not that Warner is a bad dude. On the contrary, he’s one of the few people in the NFL worth giving a damn about. Throughout his career, the winner of the 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award has put his fame and money to great, not just good, use. He stuffs Christmas stockings for foster children with his family, his First Things First program provides free trips to Disney World for children with life-threatening illnesses, and his efforts to help victims of Midwest flooding should make FEMA employees everywhere cower in shame. Warner is a Hall of Fame person, not a Hall of Fame quarterback.
Because of injuries and being docked hours in favor of supposedly younger and better quarterbacks, Warner has played a full schedule only three times during his 11-year career. He was magnificent during those seasons, but beyond that, he’s Jim Plunkett - a guy who was great early and late and who rode a Super Bowl victory to fame and a lifetime invitation to the Raiders’ annual rubber chicken roundup.
Since his 2001 Super Bowl season, Warner has been a virtual castoff, hanging on as a backup waiting for his competitors through their annual bouts of poor play. The two-time MVP was out of St. Louis by 2003, and became the designated clipboard holder for both New York and Arizona. And had it not been for Matt Lianart’s inability to run an NFL offense, Warner may have already retired.
One of the biggest flaws in Warner’s resume is the success of those who replaced him. It’s hard to make a convincing argument about an individual’s greatness when his backups accomplish nearly as much, if not more, than their predecessor.
Warner is an accurate passer - second all-time in completion percentage and fourth in QB rating- with a quick release that perfectly fit the offenses in which he played. And that’s another problem. Warner is the product of the systems he’s played in, and the beneficiary of the talent that surrounded him, which has been outstanding: Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Az-Zahir Hakim in St. Louis and Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston in Arizona.
In the five games Warner missed in 2000, Trent Green had a higher quarterback rating and a better interception percentage than Warner. After beginning the ‘03 season a perfect 0-6, Warner lost his job to Marc Bulger, who went 6-1 with a 101.5 rating to go along with 14 touchdowns, six interceptions and an invitation to the Pro Bowl. In contrast, Warner finished with a 67.4 rating with three touchdowns and 11 pics.
Warner does get justifiable credit for getting two teams to the Super Bowl after years of Lione-like success. But outside of those three Super Bowl years, Warner’s record is 21-32.
During a Jan. 6 ESPN feature about his charity work, Warner said, “Five, 10 years from now people won’t remember the name Kurt Warner. They won’t remember that I won this Super Bowl or won that award, but the people we’ve touched will never forget us and that’s the legacy we want to leave, and that’s why we get connected and try to give back as much as we can.”
No doubt he purposely downplayed his achievements, but he’s correct on the impact on things bigger than football. Warner is 39th in completed passes, 59th in attempts, 38th in passing yards and 40th in touchdowns. He touched more lives as an individual than do most teams, and that should be his legacy, not the Hall of Fame.
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