Warner's against-all-odds career earns him Hall of Fame nod

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 05, 2017 8:55 AM

By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - Kurt Warner's unlikely rise from stocking shelves at a grocery store in his mid-20s to arena league star quarterback before making it to the NFL where he became a Super Bowl MVP was already an incredible rags-to-riches story.

Warner's ability to continually overcome obstacles proved so impressive that 20th Century Fox bought the movie rights to his biography "All Things Possible".

If the film comes to fruition, however, the script will need some tweaking as Warner was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2017 on Saturday in his third year of eligibility.

"It kind of put the icing on the cake," Warner said about the moment Hall of Fame President David Baker knocked on his door to deliver the news.

"A lot of people don't know David Baker was the commissioner of the (Arena Football League) when I played arena football. We have a history. We have a relationship.

"When you think about just the journey and where God's taken me, it kind of came together with the two of us (when he knocked on my door). It was pretty cool."

Warner entered the National Football League as an undrafted free agent and finally got his shot in 1999 after the St. Louis Rams' starting quarterback went down with a preseason injury.

The unknown backup, who also had a stint in NFL Europe, took the NFL by storm as he threw three touchdown passes in each of his first three games and another five in his fourth game.

Warner's unexpected performance landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated alongside the caption "Who Is This Guy?"

Yet his season was just getting started. Warner led the Rams to their first playoff berth in 10 years and won the NFL's Most Valuable Player award. The Rams then went on to win their first Super Bowl and Warner was named MVP of the title game.

He led the Rams back to the playoffs in each of the next two seasons, including a Super Bowl berth in the 2001 season, where they fell to the New England Patriots.

Warner faded after that season and a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness brought about the end of his Rams career. He landed with the New York Giants for the 2004 season but was eventually supplanted as the starter by then-rookie Eli Manning.

Yet Warner enjoyed a rebirth with an Arizona Cardinals team he led to their first Super Bowl appearance in the 2008 season where they nearly pulled off a victory until a last-minute touchdown by Pittsburgh.

Warner played one more season before retiring at the top of his game with one year left on his contract. He is one of only three quarterbacks to start for two different Super Bowl teams.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)