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There are few success stories in professional sports more amazing than that of Kurt Warner’s. In a true rags to riches evolution, Kurt Warner went from being a 28 year old working the graveyard shift at a supermarket to one of the most memorable quarterbacks in NFL history.
This Week’s Weekend Warrior is Football legend, Kurt Warner.
Weekend Warrior: Kurt Warner
Growing up in Cedar Rapids Iowa, Kurt Warner found a home outside of his home in athletics. In high school, he was a stand-out player in basketball, baseball, and of course football.
In fact, as a Junior, he was so good at football that his coach would occasionally let him call his own plays.
Unfortunately, his high school career wasn’t good enough to get him into a college with an NFL-feeder history. Redshirting his freshmen year, Warner sat bench for the next three years at the University of Northern Iowa.
After these three long years, Warner was finally given the chance to start. He ended up leading the team to an 8-3 record and a playoff first for the team which earned him Offensive Player of the Year.
During his time at Northern Iowa, Warner met his wife-to-be who was already mother to two children who Warner would eventually adopt.
Unfortunately, Warner went undrafted upon graduating. Although the Green Bay Packers invited him to training camp, he was cut after just five short weeks.
This sent Warner back to the drawing board. He picked up shifts at a supermarket stocking shelves for $5.50 an hour, working the night shift so he could train during the day.
With his focus still on the NFL, but no attention from any teams, Warner turned to the Arena Football League in 1995 when he got a chance to play for the Iowa Barnstormers.
It was here that he would make his ability known, leading his team to two Arena Bowls, the not so famous cousin to the NFL’s Super Bowl.
Finally getting a break, Warner was given the chance to try out for the Chicago Bears, but an injury acquired on his honeymoon prevented him from making it.
His performance in the AFL, one that earned him the title of their videogame Kurt Warner’s Arena Football Unleashed (We’re not kidding. That’s a real thing.), got the attention of the St. Louis Rams.
Before his time as a Ram in the NFL, he was sent to play in the European League. His performance oversees got him a 3rd string ticket to the NFL.
When they finally let him start in 1999, Warner got straight to work.
He shocked fans in his performance against the San Francisco 49ers. Before Warner stepped in, the Rams had lost 17 straight matchups against the 49ers.
He broke the curse by throwing three touchdowns in the Rams first three possessions for a total of 14 TD’s in his first four games, leading the Rams to a 42-20 victory.
Emerging from anonymity, Warner’s breakout performance in his first starting season earned him the cover of Sport’s Illustrated with the headline “Who Is This Guy?”.
After earning an NFL MVP win at the regular season’s end, Warner took the Rams all the way to the Super Bowl in 1999 where he was named the game’s MVP, threw a record-breaking 414 passing yards and 45 passes without an interception.
Ultimately, Warner solidified himself in NFL history with a Superbowl win. He is still the only player to nab both the NFL’s regular season MVP and the Superbowl MVP in one season.
Take Home Message
Most college football players depend on their college performance to get into the NFL. For those who don’t make it, it means choosing a different path.
On the other hand, some college superstars who make it to the main stage can’t perform in the way they were hoped to. These players often choose another life path as well.
Kurt Warner was a 28-year-old working at a supermarket for minimum wage before becoming one the greatest quarterbacks to ever touch the gridiron.
Despite an unorthodox path to the NFL, He never let go of his ambition and his ambition served him right.
Follow your ambition. Get up and go.