As most of you probably heard, Kurt Warner announced his retirement today. I just wanted to take a moment to consider one of the most distinguished and storied careers in NFL history. Warner racked up one super bowl title, 3 conference championships, and five pro bowl selections. But what really distinguished his career was both the way it began and the way it ended.
The famous beginning to Warner's career found him bagging groceries at a grocery store in Iowa (after being cut by none other than the Green Bay Packers). Remarkably, within four years Warner was a super bowl champion and an NFL MVP. Such an incredible career coming from such humble beginnings is nearly unprecedented in sports history.
The end of Kurt Warner's career was just as special as its beginning, and that is what prompted me to write this post today. I have always admired Kurt Warner, but I admit my admiration was replaced by wariness when I heard a quote from him last week saying he "hoped God would allow him to not love the game anymore" so that he could call it quits. Religious views aside, it worried me that Warner was relying on a higher power to enable him to move on, and I envisioned a scenario in which Warner would be unable to make a definitive decision until such a decision was made for him. Those of us in Packer nation (and this nation as a whole) have had more than our fair share of stories about a certain other future hall of fame quarterback who, in my opinion, sullied his name and reputation by being indecisive about his future (and subsequently betraying the team and city that had given him so much for 16 years).
I just wanted to apologize to Mr. Warner for doubting his strength of will. Perhaps my perception of professional athletes' abilities is forever tainted by the terrible ordeal that a certain quarterback from Mississippi has put us through over the past few seasons. I think that Kurt Warner has demonstrated infinitely more integrity than said quarterback by making a clear and definitive decision immediately after the end of the season. Perhaps I am speculating too much, but I have a strong feeling we won't be seeing Kurt Warner holding a tearful, whiny press conference begging the Arizona Cardinals to trade him to the 49ers, Rams, or Seahawks anytime soon.
The reason for that, simply stated, is integrity.