Warner takes improbable journey to Hall of Fame


AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX — Kurt Warner was 28 years old before he became a starting NFL quarterback, a late start for a Hall of Fame career.

Before that came one season as a starter at Northern Iowa; time stocking grocery shelves to make ends meet; three years of Arena Football; and one year in NFL Europe.

It’s a remarkable journey that led him to three Super Bowls with two franchises. He won one Super Bowl, was voted NFL MVP twice and Super Bowl MVP once.

And he might not have gotten the opportunity had St. Louis starter Trent Green not gone down with an injury in 1999.

Suddenly Warner was a starter, and the Rams took off, evolving into “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

By the time he called it quits after the 2009 season, he had led the Rams to two Super Bowls, winning one, and had guided the long-downtrodden Arizona Cardinals to their only Super Bowl appearance, nearly winning it.

He appreciates that Hall of Fame voters were able to look beyond his statistics, which he acknowledges don’t approach those of many of the game’s greats.

“They felt that they couldn’t write the history of professional football without me,” Warner said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“I’m very honored and humbled that anybody — but that a collective group of people — felt that way.”

In between St. Louis and Arizona was a brief stop with the New York Giants, where his style didn’t really fit the system and he was benched in favor of rookie Eli Manning.

Warner was looking for work after that and wound up in Arizona with a franchise with a history of failure.

But in 2008, he took the Cardinals on an unexpected run to the Super Bowl and a narrow loss to Pittsburgh.