It’s time to continue with my look at some of the greatest players and coaches who have spent all or some of their careers with one or more of the NFL London-bound teams. In this post, I have a look at the recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Kurt Warner.
Although he played for and achieved great things with both the LA Rams and Arizona Cardinals – both of which are playing in the NFL London 2017 series – this post is just a quick look at what he achieved with the Arizona-based team.
Kurt Warner – Arizona Cardinals
Some may disagree with this a little (maybe) considering that Kurt Warner was only really the starting QB for the Cardinals for a couple of seasons, but looking at what he achieved with them whilst there I’d say it is more than valid to say he is a legend of the Cardinals franchise as well as the Rams franchise.
He actually entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 1994 and went on to play for 3 different NFL teams as well as having a stop in NFL Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals. He retired before the 2010 season after being on the receiving end of a cheap shot by the New Orleans Saints defense whilst trying to make a tackle after an intercepted pass.
Warner never said it was a cheap shot but instead said it was a “violent hit”. It was later uncovered, in 2012 during the “Bountygate” scandal, that the Saints had put a bounty on Warner and were deliberately trying to injure him as a means to get him out of the game. This would contribute largely to the ending of his playing career.
After having a successful career with the St. Louis Rams between 1998-2003, which saw him go to two and win one Super Bowl, he found his way onto the Arizona Cardinals roster via a one-season stop in New York with the Giants where he lost his job to the highly regarded rookie, Eli Manning.
It was 2005 when Warner signed with the Arizona Cardinals on a 1-year contract to be their starter. He would actually lose the starting job to Josh McCown for a while during that season but eventually win it back and go on to do enough to get offered a new contract, this time for 3-years.
After an up and down career with the Cardinals, which saw him battling with Matt Leinart for the starting QB job over the course of a couple of seasons, Warner finally got his chance as head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, named him the starter just before the start of the 2008 season. This proved to be a good move by the coach and the start of something better for the franchise. The team went on to win the NFC West division that year, which was the first time they’d done it since 1975 and progressed to the playoffs for the first time since 1998. Kurt Warner was also the top QB in the NFC that year. Because of his great play that season, Warner was voted to be the starting NFC QB in that year’s Pro Bowl.
The following season, 2009, was even better for Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals as he led them to the big game itself – the Super Bowl. This was the first time in franchise history that they’d gone this far and even though they ended up losing 27-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers it was still a huge achievement. He had an impressive showing in the game as he threw for 377-yards placing him in 2nd spot on the list of most yards passed for in a single Super Bowl game (he also owns the 1st and 3rd spots due to his performances in his previous 2 Super Bowl appearances with the St. Louis Rams).
It’s worth noting at this point that he actually took his team to the Super Bowl every season he was the starting QB and played in every regular and post-season game.
During his time with the Cardinals, he spent the first couple of seasons trying to get and hold on to the starting QB job, but once he got it he took the team further than they had ever gone during the Super Bowl era. He excelled in passer rating, TD passes and passing yards and had the Cardinals as a top NFL team until the Saints and their scandalous “Bountygate” activities ended his career before the 2010 season.