Looking like God’s gift in a gray sports jacket and open-neck black shirt, Kurt Warner officially announced his retirement Friday afternoon at the Cardinals’ headquarters after 12 seasons.
“I’m excited about spending time with my family and the plans God has in store for me next,” Warner said in a 40-minute press briefing in which, true to form, he was the epitome of class. “The one thing I want to leave people with is that I’m a living example that, when you make yourself useful and God wants to use you in a special way, anything is possible.”
When asked what he planned on doing moving forward, the two-time league MVP said he would definitely be involved in the ministry and “impacting people’s lives.” Warner also mentioned an interest, though, in continuing to keep football as a part of his life.
“What that means, I don’t exactly know,” Warner said. “Maybe I’ll get into TV or radio. That will be determined by my time constraints. Right now my family is my priority.”
Warner walks away from a two-year contract that had one year remaining on it, worth approximately $11.5 million.
Ten minutes or so into his press conference, Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom echoed the thoughts of most everyone in the pro football community in a press release praising Warner.
“Kurt Warner epitomized the finest qualities that can be attributed to any athlete,” Rosenbloom said. “He is a gentleman, competitor and, most of all, a winner whose achievements and contributions go far beyond the field of play.
“Kurt is one of the most compelling success stories in the history of sports. His well-chronicled journey included two NFL MVP awards, a Super Bowl championship and countless honors for his philanthropy. In a time when many shun the label of role model, Kurt embraced it and exemplified it. He is a man of our time and for our time.”
The PFW spin
Amen, Chip. Clearly, Warner was a special athlete who was almost too good to be true, both on and off the field. Despite a down period in the middle of his career, Warner’s Hall of Fame credentials are impossible to ignore. In addition to twice being named the league’s MVP (in 1999 and 2001), he was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV, a four-time Pro Bowler and only one of two quarterbacks to start for two different teams in the Super Bowl (the Rams and Cardinals).
His was particularly brilliant in postseason play, as evidenced by his league-record 102.8 postseason passer rating (mininum 150 attempts) and the fact he registered the three highest passing-yardage totals in pro football’s ultimate showcase.
Warner’s future, as well as that of the Cardinals, promises to be, at the very least, extremely intriguing. With his movie-star looks and genuinely classy personality, it is easy to see Warner excelling in the broadcast booth in a manner similar to Tony Dungy should he eventually decide to go that route.
However, it’s not nearly as easy to see the Cardinals excelling without him. With Warner now out of the mix, former first-round draft pick Matt Leinart is finally set to take center stage in the desert. Up to now, Leinart’s ups and downs have been well documented, and there is no denying the pressure he will be under to live up to the standard that Warner set with his great work ethic in an offense that was tailored to his particular talents.
Which brings up another point worth noting: What will the Cardinals' offensive identity be now that Warner has strolled off into the sunset with God at his side? Head coach Kent Whisenhunt initially came to Arizona with a power run-oriented offensive philosophy that he had emphasized as the offensive coordinator of the Steelers. With Warner moving on, as well as the emergence this season of what appears to be a potentially explosive one-two punch in the backfield courtesy of first-round rookie Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower, a dramatic schematic shift could very well be in the offing.
PFW has launched its brand-new NFL Draft Newsletter series, with the second issue now ready for mailing and a third issue focusing on underclassmen to be published in the next few weeks. Produced by PFW's player personnel department under the direction of Nolan Nawrocki, the series consists of four information-packed issues. For more info or to subscribe — click here for PDF e-pub or here for print format. You can also find details about other draft-related publications in the PFW store.