Just two seasons ago, Kurt Warner lead the beleaguered Arizona Cardinals franchise to a Super Bowl appearance -- and came within just moments of a victory. That’s hard to believe if you’ve watched the 2010 Cardinals play a down this year. The word abysmal comes to mind.
Four weeks into the season, despite being 2-2, one could argue they are the worst team in the NFC, maybe the entire NFL. In professional sports, things change quickly, but did anyone expect the Cardinals to go from conference champion to bottom-feeder in two short years?
So what’s missing from that 2008 squad? Well, losing Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the Baltimore Ravens and Pro Bowl linebacker Karlos Dansby to the Miami Dolphins surely doesn’t help. They have long been plagued with miserable offensive line play (even their 2008 Super Bowl runner-up squad), which remained masked by one person: Kurt Warner.
Sure, the losses of Boldin and Dansby hurt, but when you lose the most accurate passer in NFL history…you best not expect to continue to be the offensive machine of the previous several years. The Cardinals still trot out stud wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. They play two talented running backs in Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells. They have offensive weapons at their disposal, even with the loss of Boldin. But the ingredient missing is Warner.
Warner is perhaps the most interesting story in NFL history. He bounced around B-League football for years playing in Europe and Canada, trying to audition for NFL teams. He finally landed in St. Louis, as a back-up.
His opportunity only came to fruition through an injury to the starting quarterback, Trent Green. Warner popped into the lineup, the Rams took off, and the star of Warner was born. Several years (and injuries) later, Warner wound up on the chopping block. He signed with the Giants, getting them off to a 5-2 start. After losing two more games, Warner found the bench for incumbent Eli Manning. In the offseason, Warner was job hunting again. He signed in Arizona, battled to win a starting job and eventually emerged to lead the team to a Super Bowl appearance.
Many contest Warner is simply a product of the Mike Martz offensive system in St. Louis. Yet this doesn’t account for his amazing success in Arizona. Truthfully, Warner’s career has been a roller coaster which started low, hit a high point, went back down again and finished astonishingly. Some will say the lull in the middle of his career is reason enough for him to not deserve the Hall of Fame. I say, take a look at the 2010 Cardinals, and you will see exactly why Kurt Warner deserves the Hall of Fame.