Take all the success the Cardinals have had over the last couple of years. The Super Bowl, the division titles, the newfound national respect. Now imagine it as a giant pie (apple of course).
How big is Kurt Warner’s slice? How much of it was he directly and personally responsible for?
The knee jerk reaction (which is usually the right one but not in this case) is to say, it was one quarter Warner, one quarter Larry Fitzgerald, one quarter Coach Ken Whisenhunt and one quarter that beautiful monolith of football that is University of Phoenix Stadium – the piece of the pie that allows them to act like a big boy, grown up football team.
But logic and common sense intercede and you realize that Anquan Boldin deserves a slice. So do Adrian Wilson, Darnell Dockett, Steve Breaston, Rod Graves, Michael Bidwill, Bill Bidwill, John Lott…..shoot Dennis Green deserves a slice. The fans deserve a slice.
And yet, it couldn’t have happened without #13. He gets a big slice of this pie. He reinvented himself, resuscitated his career and led the revolution in Arizona. He put a face on a Cardinal franchise trying to convince the world that they were a legitimate NFL franchise. Here were the Cardinals…..not the loveable losers of the NFL, just the losers. Here was Warner……left on the QB scrapheap by the Giants, just looking for one last chance. Has there ever been a more perfect NFL marriage?
I’d like to think that Whisenhunt – had he not chosen Warner to start at QB back in 2008 – would have found a way to make this team good. Anyone who sells this franchise short in the absence of Warner isn’t paying the coach the respect he’s due. I still think his slice is the biggest of the bunch.
But without Warner they wouldn’t have been great. They wouldn’t have been two and a half minutes away from winning a Super Bowl.
Warner’s greatest asset is his rarity. He’s just a different kind of cat. With thanks to a Roger Cline and the Peacemakers song, he isn’t confusing his wants with his needs. He wants to play football, but he doesn’t need football to define him. Most stay in the arena until they literally have nothing left. Not Warner. He’s walking away from the game when he still has plenty of game at his disposal.
Can the sequel ever top the original? We’ll dive into that next week and worry about the future another day. Today belongs to Warner.