Former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner hopes to be voted into the Hall of Fame Saturday.
When Aeneas Williams was voted into the Hall of Fame, the former Cardinals (and Rams) defensive back quoted another man inducted into Canton.
“My friend Cris Carter says, ‘When they say the Hall of Fame, they’re saying they can’t tell the history of the NFL without including you,’ ” Williams said.
That is why former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner should be voted into the Hall of Fame Saturday in Houston, when
the 2017 class is chosen and announced.
To tell the story of the NFL over the last 20 years is impossible to do without talking about Warner, who gave the league one of its greatest stories – twice – and played some excellent football along the way. Warner is one of 15 finalists for the Hall for a third straight year. Up to five are voted in, and after coming close last year, the prevailing sentiment is that Warner is on the verge of getting his gold jacket.
The players Warner is up against all are worthy, although Warner is the only quarterback this year. The reality is that there are Hall-worthy players every season who don’t make it in. Warner has been one of those guys. But if they weren’t Hall-worthy, they wouldn’t have made it this far anyway.
The biggest check against Warner is the mid-career lull he had, cutting his excellent seasons down to a handful. But that hasn’t stopped tackle Tony Boselli or running back Terrell Davis – who each played great football but for a short amount of time – from being finalists in this class.
Besides, the times when Warner was great, he was truly great.
Big picture, he took two teams in the Rams and Cardinals to Super Bowls – the Rams twice – after those franchises had lost 10 games in eight and seven of the previous 10 years before he arrived. He won one. He still owns the three top passing yardage performances in Super Bowl history – 414 for the Rams versus the Titans, 377 for the Cardinals versus
the Steelers, 365 for the Rams versus the Patriots.
Warner won two MVP awards. He’s second in career completion percentage (65.5) and seventh in passing yards per game (261).
He was spectacular in three seasons with the Rams before injuries wiped out his last two years there. He was benched during his one season with the Giants not because of poor play – the Giants were above .500 – but because New York wanted to get rookie Eli Manning in the lineup.
In Arizona, his first two years were rocky too. Warner was infamously booed off the University of Phoenix Stadium turf in 2006 after a rough start to the year and he was replaced again by a rookie – Matt Leinart. He admitted later in the season he was considering retirement.
But Warner didn’t. He plugged away and finally got to split some time with Leinart early in the 2007 season. It was clear he was a better quarterback than Leinart, and it was the start of another fantastic three-year stretch.
Warner could have kept playing, kept helping his Hall of Fame cause, instead of retiring after the 2009 season. And the Cardinals found out quickly what Warner had meant to them.
Not that it was hard to figure out. On the field, he got them to a Super Bowl. Off the field, he was a major factor in convincing them they could get there in the first place.
Warner may not be a lock to be voted in, and that can be argued with the other finalists. But it feels like the time when it could have been argued that he shouldn’t be voted in at all has long passed, and probably passed that night in Tampa, when the Cardinals nearly won a title.