Friday, January 29, 2010
Kurt Warner's Legacy
When Kurt Warner announced his retirement, I was sad. Not only because he, along with Coach Whisenhunt, changed the culture of a perennially sad and woeful team named the Cardinals, but because Kurt Warner is the embodiment of what life is all about: grinding toward you goal while never giving up service to others.
Sadly, sports is replete with stories of selfish, solipsistic behavior or a sense of entitlement. Very rarely does someone come into sports do something that is Herculean in nature: Kurt Warner made his team better; better players and better people.
Kurt Warner is more than just a football player, more than just a great quarterback. He is a transcendent inspiration on the field and off.
Think about it, if I were to tell you about a man who was invited to try out and cut by the Packers, missed his appointment with the Bears because of a spider bite, stocked groceries, played in the Arena League and landed as a backup in St. Louis, and won a Super Bowl, you would say that that's a stellar career. A career any player would want.
But if I told you how Kurt was cut by St. Louis, mentored Eli Manning of the Giants, wound up in the NFL trash pile called the Arizona Cardinals to mentor another young quarterback, but got the starting job and carried the team on his shoulders, taking the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl in their long history, you wouldn't believe it.
Plus, he's happily married with kids and a foundation that really gives back to the community.
That kind of career is a movie script. It's like a mythical, biblical parable - part true, part fable, and part tall tale with a wonderful didactic ending. Warner's NFL career makes Job look like a whiner.
But that's been the hallmark of Kurt Warner. From the time he was in college, he handled himself in a quiet, unassuming manner, stoking that competitive fire to do his best for himself, his family, holding steadfast to his beliefs and most importantly, others.
And when life was not kind, he never gave in to cynicism or bad-mouthing his team or other players. He kept his values, faith and principles in check, always keeping football important, but serving others a top priority.
Kurt Warner is a grinder, someone who keeps head down, works hard and when life threw obstacles in his way, he didn't quit - he kept grinding. I have a ton of respect for people like that and Warner is atop that list.
After the loss to the Saints, Kurt said he wanted God to take the desire to play football from him. I understand what he meant by that.
Kurt has been grinding so long and hard, not for a paycheck, not for the notoriety, but for the love of grinding it out, working hard and grinding toward his goals.
I will remember Kurt Warner as a great football player, but more importantly, a better human being.
Thanks, Kurt. The Cardinals, the NFL, and every city you've played in is a better place because of you and the lives you've touched.