Friday, January 23, 2009

Resurrection in the Desert

He has been written off on several occasions, booed off his home field, benched, doubted, undervalued and underestimated.

Kurt's story isn't new, but it never gets old.

He is an inspiration to anyone ready to throw in the towel.

The Readers Digest version is that Kurt only grabbed a starting place in college football during his senior year at the University of Northern Iowa and barely got a look at a Green Bay Packers training camp in 1994 before landing back home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, stocking shelves and bagging groceries at a local supermarket for $5.50 an hour.

But, Kurt still believed in himself when nobody else did and eventually landed a quarterbacking job with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena League before catching on with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. He parlayed that into a backup role with the St. Louis Rams in 1998 and when starter Trent Green was injured during the 1999 pre-season, Kurt emerged as the the pitch man for "The Greatest Show on Turf,", capping it off with a Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans where was he was named MVP.

After three impressive seasons, the St. Louis track team ran out of steam and Kurt landed in New York with the Giants, struggled in the Big Apple and wound up sitting behind a kid named Manning. He appeared on his way out of football before joining Arizona as a backup again in 2005. It looked to be the end of the road for a veteran gunslinger, riding out into the sunset as a caddy for Cardinals #1 pick, Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart.

But, with Leinart becoming known more so for enjoying late nights as opposed to late-game heroics, Kurt has bounced back yet again, leading the underdog Cardinals to their first playoff victory in 60 year and a Super Bowl berth next week with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

From where Kurt Warner sits - as a man of faith - it's easy to explain why he was risen from the ashes in Phoenix.

In every place Kurt has played, he has been a people magnet, because he never allows Warner the athlete to define Warner the person. On the day Warner was benched in Arizona two years ago, the first thing he did when he left the office was seek out a Cardinals employee to comfort him about the diagnosis of the man's autistic son.

Warner and wife Brenda take needy, at-risk and/or Make-a-Wish families to Disney World for a week every off season ... and they don't just pay for the families; they stay with them. When he and Brenda go to dinner with their children they pick out one family in the restaurant, call the waiter over, and anonymously pick up the tab. The secret is, the family can never know who did it. It's all about being charitable for charity's sake -- not for the sake of being thanked or recognized for doing a good deed.

Win, lose or draw, there are certain things no one can take away from Kurt Warner.

Who else do you know that could be called a better person than a player?

"The first night we met, after we danced that night, I told him, 'I just want you to know I am a divorced mother of two, so if I never hear from you again, I will understand. The next morning, he showed up with a rose and wanted to meet the kids" BRENDA WARNER


Danielle said...

This is another example of ordinary people doing EXTRAordinary things. It doesn't take much or require a lot of money to make a little difference in someone's life. Its all in the choices & decisions we make every day. Whether to be a good person or not, be happy or do, do good for someone else or not. Why not choose to be happy & smile every day, for we are blessed to be here.

Thanks for sharing this story Gair!!!

Gair Maxwell said...

My pleasure Danielle,

Another friend of mine shared in conversation today that this blog post put a smile on his face and tugged at his heartstrings.

His take on the whole "thanking God" bit was that Kurt Warner is thankful for the blessing of winning; not that God chose them to win. There would be God followers on both teams, but obviously both teams can't win. Win or lose, Kurt has the same faith, admiration and belief in God; just in winning, he's thankful for the blessing.

Makes for an interesting discussion don't you think?

Thanks for sharing this one !