By Melva N. Lloyd
After a successful 12-year stint in the NFL, Kurt Warner announced on Friday what everyone already knew: he is retiring from his career as a professional football player.
The 38-year old quarterback started his career as a player with the Arena Football League; the University of Northern Iowa alum went undrafted by the NFL after graduation. But after a major rejection, getting cut by the Green Bay Packers and a side job as a stock boy at the Hy-Vee grocery store in Cedar Falls, Warner was picked up by the St. Louis Rams in 1998. He would lead the Rams to two Super Bowl appearances but seemingly dropped off the radar after a year with the New York Giants. Warner’s starting position with the Giants was snatched from him when rookie sensation Eli Manning came onto the scene.
A three-time league MVP, Warner began to lose most of his fan base; he was an aging quarterback who had everything but what really mattered: a Super Bowl championship. But he would find success again in 2005 when he signed with the Arizona Cardinals and led the struggling team to the main stage, a plae that was becoming all too familiar to him.
A deeply religious man, and father of seven, Warner chose to walk away from a year remaining on his two-year $23 million contract.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” Warner said. “I don’t think I could have dreamt it would have played out like it has, but I’ve been humbled every day that I woke up the last 12 years and amazed that God would choose to use me to do what he’s given me the opportunity to do.”
Earlier this year, Warner proved the naysayers wrong when he put on one of his best postseason performances ever when Arizona pulled off a 51-45 overtime wild card victory against Green Bay. He’s had a Hall of Fame calibar career even though he was considered a late bloomer; he was finally drafted by a professional team at 28-years old.
In 124 regular-season games, Warner completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 32,344 yards and 208 touchdowns. Only Fran Tarkenton has similar numbers and Dan Marino, Brett Favre and Petyon Manning have more 300-yard passing games.
Warner has always been praised for his humble personality and welcoming attitude. He and his wife Brenda founded the First Things First Christian charitable foundation and just last year, he was named the NFL’s Man of the Year for his accomplishments both on and off the football field.
Kurt Warner his leaving his passion for football with his head held high and a flock of admirers and well-wishers. And his retirement plans are straightforward: he simply wants to watch his children grow up, preach and possibly become a broadcaster.
Kurt Warner, a real stand-up guy.
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