Apr 21, 2020
For a podcast that tries to shine a light on the underdog, this week has us over the moon. Our guest has perhaps the most iconic underdog story in NFL history and one of the best athletes in Iowa history. Of course, we are talking about one of the best passers in NFL history, Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. All sports fans know the story of Warner going from stocking shelves at Hy Vee to quarterbacking his team to 3 Super Bowls but there is so much more. Warner seemingly came out of nowhere, including a Sports Illustrated cover asking “Who is this guy?”
Kurt Warner grew up in eastern Iowa and was an all-state basketball player at Regis High School in Cedar Rapids. After a lot of success as a high school football and basketball player, Warner went on to UNI to play quarterback for the Panthers. However, he spent what he calls his four toughest years as a football player as the back up to Jay Johnson. Warner tore up the Gateway conference on his way to being the conference offensive player of the year in 1993 when he was given the reins in his red-shirt senior year. The Green Bay Packers took a chance on Warner as an undrafted free agent in 1994 where he was in the quarterback room with Brett Favre, Mark Brunnell, and Ty Detmer. After not making the team, Warner made his way back to Iowa and a job at Hy Vee while waiting for his shot. He had always ambitions for football beyond college and the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena League gave him that shot.
While many people look at the Kurt Warner story and look at the times he didn’t play, Warner was always focused on how he took advantage of the chances he got. As an Iowa Barnstormer, Warner took the team to 2 league title games in his 3 years. His success in the fast-paced, quick-hitting arena game opened a door to the NFL-Europe. Warner lit up NFL Europe for the Amsterdam Admirals, leading the league in both touchdowns and passing yards. Warner returned to the Rams and was on the roster as the 3rd string QB for the 1998 season. Once 1999 rolled around, well, Warner started on his path to Canton. From 1999-2003 Warner quarterbacked the Greatest Show on Turf to two Super Bowls and won a ring and MVP. After two years with the New York Giants, Warner was signed by the Arizona Cardinals. Warner led the Cardinals to their first postseason win in over 50 years on their way to the Super Bowl in 2008 before retiring in 2010.
Literally, Kurt Warner’s story is the stuff of movies. His tale includes both the experiences of the journeyman and the obstacles of the underdog. Warner has seen it all, from sitting on the bench in college, tearing up two professional leagues on his way to sitting on the bench in the NFL before setting the world on fire with Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, and Mike Martz. Now, as he works as a broadcaster, high school coach, and #1 fan for his sons, the Kurt Warner story is being made into a movie titled “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story which is set to be released in December.