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Kurt Warner: From Stock Boy to Super Bowl MVP to High School Coach

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Football: NFC Playoffs: Rear view of Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner (13) victorious, walking through confetti after winning NFC Champhionship game vs Philadelphia Eagles. Glendale, AZ 1/18/2009 CREDIT: Al Tielemans (Photo by Al Tielemans /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X81689 TK1 R7 F108 )
Victorious Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner (13) walking through confetti after winning NFC Championship game vs. Philadelphia Eagles. Glendale, Arizona. January 18, 2009. (Al Tielemans/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

When the 1999 NFL season began, these were 28-year-old Kurt Warner’s career stats in the league: one game played (zero starts), 11 pass attempts, four completions, 39 yards.

When that season ended, Warner had led the NFL in an array of passing stats (including TD passes with 41) as his St. Louis Rams went 13-3 and won the Super Bowl. Warner would collect both the regular season and Super Bowl MVP awards. It forever transformed the life of a quarterback who failed to catch on with the Green Bay Packers way back in 1994, and was forced for a time to make his living as a supermarket stock boy. Warner went on to win another MVP and play in two more Super Bowls before retiring after the 2009 season.

 

Quarterback Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals announces his retirement from football during a press conference at the team's training center auditorium on January 29, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.
Quarterback Kurt Warner poses with family (L-R) Kade, Jada, Elijah, Sierra, and Brenda while announcing his retirement from football during a press conference at the team’s training center auditorium on January 29, 2010, in Tempe, Arizona. (Getty)

 

Warner’s life has again taken an unexpected twist, and it largely involves the young man, at left, in the photo above: Kurt’s now a high school football coach for the team where his son, Kade, plays. (And no, Kade does not play quarterback: “I don’t think Kade has ever wanted the pressure of being a quarterback and being my son, so he’s naturally gravitated to other positions.”)

Understand: Desert Mountain High in Scottsdale, Arizona, is hardly a powerhouse. When Warner gave Robert Klemko from Monday Morning Quarterback access to his practices, the team’s record was 0-5. Which makes Warner’s eagerness to lead predawn practices all the more endearing. (One Wednesday session ended at 7 a.m.) Warner notes he has done his best to adjust his expectations as he teaches teenagers who often find themselves physically overmatched on the field:

“’If I went out there and expected from them what I see in an NFL practice, then that’s on me,’ Warner says. ‘I have to have realistic expectations. I have to think, how can I make it easier on them? If a guy’s open I’m thinking to myself, we’ve gotta hit him. But I never want to set my expectations too high because that leads to my frustration and then the players’ frustration, because they’re doing the best they can.'”

To read more (including Warner’s thoughts on the age when children should actually start playing football), click here.

31 Oct 1999: Kurt Warner #13 of the St. Louis Rams looks down the line of scrimmage during the game against the Nasahville Titans at the Adelphia Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Rams 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran /Allsport
Kurt Warner #13 of the St. Louis Rams looks down the line of scrimmage during the game against the Tennessee Titans at the Adelphia Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee. October 31, 1999. (Scott Halleran/Allsport/Getty)