Hall of Fame Audition

Last Updated: January 30th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

Kurt WarnerThe 2009 Super Bowl is a mere two days away as the world awaits one of the biggest sporting spectacles on the planet. The Super Bowl has always been the most popular and widely watched game in sports. This year’s battle promises to draw some more dramatic excitement as the Arizona Cardinals are in search for their first ever Super Bowl victory while the Pittsburgh Steelers will be trying to break an NFL record with their 6th Super Bowl win. Not only does this game cap off a great season for the winner, but it will also define the eternal career of quarterback Kurt Warner. One of the growing debates leading into this year’s spectacle has been the possibility and chances that veteran QB Kurt Warner will make the Hall of Fame. Warner has definitely received a bigger fan base through his performance during the playoffs this year where he has epitomized what it takes to be a leader of an NFL football team. Clearly this debate does not have an answer with many people believing Warner will make it into the Hall of Fame and many believing he will be left out. One thing that is for sure is this year’s Super Bowl may be the final audition that concretes the Warner legacy forever.

One of the pessimistic clouds that have overshadowed Warner’s career is that many believe he has not been as consistent enough as a top quarterback to receive the ultimate nomination into Canton, Ohio. Warner became an Arena Football League quarterback in 1995 after not being able to get a spot with an NFL team. Warner did not even enter the NFL until 3 years later at the age of 28. However, one year later Kurt Warner would take the role behind center for the St. Louis Rams and complete one of the biggest breakout stories in NFL history. The 1999 season really put the star quarterback on the map as he completed 65% of his passes on the season, for 4,353 yards, and an amazing 41 touchdowns. The 41 touchdowns became a Rams all-time record while placing 5th on the single season all-time list. Warner received his first MVP and led the St. Louis Rams to their first ever Super Bowl victory and also won the Super Bowl MVP becoming the 6th person ever to win both MVP titles in the same year. Over the next two years Warner will still have a good bit of success throwing 57 touchdowns and racking up an outstanding 4,830 yards through the air in 2001. The yardage total of 4,830 ranked 3rd all-time and led to Kurt Warner receiving his 2nd MVP award in 3 years while leading the Rams to another Super Bowl appearance. The Rams lost a close game to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, but Warner still amassed over 365 yards the 2nd most in Super Bowl history behind his 414 yard performance in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Warner seemed to be on the fast track as one of the NFL’s all-time greats at the quarterback position despite his late entrance into the NFL. However, the following years were anything but expected. In 2002, Warner broke a finger on his throwing hand after a 0-3 start and despite making a comeback effort only played in two more games the rest of the season. Warner got the starting role back in the 2003 season opener, but after fumbling 6 times in the opener against the New York Giants his season was over before it begun. Marc Bulger took over the QB position for the Rams and Warner was left on the sidelines for the rest of the season and was releases by the Rams at the end of the year in 2004. During the off-season, Warner found a home with the New York Giants. However, this fit could be seen long before it happened that it was not going to work. Warner had become popular behind explosive offensive attacks and the New York Giants offense was more balanced power attack. Not to mention the Giants had already signed their future franchise quarterback in rookie Eli Manning. Warner got the Giants off to a 5-2 start before going through 2 straight poor performances that resulted in losses and Eli Manning would take over behind center. Following the season, Warner signed a one year contract with the Arizona Cardinal in a move similar to the St. Louis situation where a talented receiving core based around a west coast offense was in search of quarterback to give them a spark.

During the beginning of the Arizona campaign in 2005, Warner battled injuries in the midst of mediocre performances and finally partially tore his MCL at the end of the season. The popular belief quickly became that Kurt Warner’s days of a starting quarterback in the NFL were over and that he may even retire. However Warner got off to a fairly good start in 2006, but shared time with Matt Lienart who many thought was the future for the Cardinals. Leinart got the nod going into the 2007 season, but after some poor performances Warner would have to come of the bench and give Arizona a much needed confidence boost. Warner ended the 2007 season with a rather effective impression falling one touchdown short of a franchise record with 27 TDs for the season along with 3,417 yards as well. Warner got the start entering this season and it quickly became apparent that all the pieces of the Arizona offense had finally got glued together. Arizona sported one of the most potent passing attacks in the NFL and Warner led the assault by amassing over 4,583 yards and a franchise record 30 touchdowns. Warner’s ability to direct the talented Arizona offense down the stretch this season has become eerie similar to that of his performance with the St. Louis Rams. Despite the year’s of underachieving, Warner has the opportunity to grab his 2nd Super Bowl ring and become the first ever quarterback to win the first franchise Super Bowl with two different teams. If Warner can lead the Cardinals into another postseason upset, the years from 2002-2006 will likely be forgotten forever.

The debate is so popular because the argument is legitimate from both sides. Many people may argue how can a guy receive the Hall of Fame talk when he spent nearly half his career battling for a starting position? However, looking at the statistics side of the argument Warner would likely be a lock. After all how can you turn down someone who has the second highest completion percentage all time at 66%, 3 Super Bowl appearances, 1 Lombardi Trophy, a Super Bowl MVP, and 2 NFL MVP awards? Warner also has a few more notable statistics including the highest passing yards per game average in NFL history at 261, the highest percentage of 300 yard games at 45%, and is tied with Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger for the most games with a perfect passing rating. However, the sad thing is that without this year’s breakout Warner might not be in any of the Hall of Fame talk. Still his performance down the stretch has been noticed by everybody in America and truly spectacular to watch. It is safe to say if he can pull off another underdog type feat and win his 2nd Super Bowl then the 37 year old can make retirement reservations for Canton, Ohio, but for now let the debate rage on.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Friday, January 30th, 2009 @ 7:12 pm (EST)
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