By Jeff Munn
The mind is a powerful thing.
It can convince us certain things exist, that certain things are possible, when in fact, just the opposite is reality.
So we are left to assume it was Kurt Warner’s mind that came up with the idea, one month shy of his 47th birthday, that he could play in the NFL again after an eight year absence. Because it sure couldn’t have been his body.
Kurt Warner is, by any standard you choose, a man to be respected. His perseverance as a football player eventually got him a Super Bowl ring and a Hall of Fame jacket. His faith is not only displayed in his words but his actions. Anyone, adult or child, who would make Kurt Warner into a hero could do way worse.
But when he recently revealed that he had spoken to NFL coaches last season about a possible return, Warner was messing with something far too important to be trifled with – his legacy.
After he revealed his desire to play again during a St. Louis Cardinals baseball telecast, Warner followed with a radio interview in which he said if he were to sign with a team, he would not agree to be a backup. While he didn’t say so, you’d also have to guess he wouldn’t come back to start for a team that wasn’t projected to win more than maybe four or five games.
Must be a REALLY slow news day….
— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) May 8, 2018
Think of the 12 teams that made the NFL postseason in 2017. Perhaps only Buffalo would say they would welcome an upgrade at quarterback. If they had the chance to get a new starter, would they actually hand their offense over to a man who hasn’t taken a snap since a January 2010 playoff game in New Orleans?
There is also the matter of WHY Kurt Warner retired after that game. His body was beat up. He had suffered at least one concussion. His wife Brenda didn’t want him to risk serious injury. Eight years later and eight years older, it’s hard to imagine his body is any better prepared for the beating it would most certainly take in an NFL that is eight years faster and eight years stronger since the Saints had a bounty on him.
Legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach has been quoted multiple times as saying in his mind, he thought he could still play, but he knew that his body could never take the strain. Warner’s mind is clearly trying to shout his body down while it tried to remind him why he stopped playing.
So why has he brought up the possibility? One of the hardest things for a professional athlete to do, especially the great ones, is admit to themselves that it’s over. Michael Jordan struggled with it. Brett Favre really struggled with it. Warner may just be having trouble with the idea that he can’t play anymore.
Warner has spent the past few years as a studio analyst for NFL Network. He should have been the pick for the analyst role on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, but the network instead paired Jason Witten with the overly dramatic Joe Tessitore. Still, Warner could find work in a booth for pro or college games in a heartbeat. He’s articulate, photogenic, and has more insightful things to say than CBS’ lead NFL analyst Tony Romo. At the conclusion of New England’s playoff win over Tennessee this past January, play-by-play man Jim Nantz informed viewers the Patriots would play either Jacksonville or Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship. Romo’s hard hitting analysis: “That’ll be a big game, Jim”.
Kurt Warner can do better. Way better.
Here’s hoping this is the last we’ll hear of Kurt Warner wanting to play again. Fans here, and in St. Louis, deserve to remember Kurt the way we always have, with that booming throwing arm, the ability to rally his team in the last few minutes, and with the smile he exhibited the night he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. We don’t need to see him being carted off a field, hobbling on crutches, or worse, because he listened to his heart and mind instead of his brain and his body.
Frankly, Kurt Warner doesn’t need it either.