Kurt Warner was a busy man over his 13-year NFL career, but over the last several years, he has gotten to know two of the Baltimore Ravens’ biggest offensive weapons closely, and he says that Ravens fans this year should be in a real treat this year.
Everyone knows Kurt Warner’s story by now. How he came out of Northern Iowa, didn’t get drafted, and eventually found his way playing on Arena League teams-on top of bagging groceries at the local grocery store to make money.
But one injury in the preseason to Rams starter Trent Green put Warner on the map as an MVP and a Super Bowl champion.
“Who is this guy?”, people said in that 1999 campaign, which ended in a Rams victory over the Tennessee Titans. In that Super Bowl, Warner passed for a Super Bowl record 414 passing yards en route to winning Super Bowl MVP.
He was only the sixth player to win league MVP and Super Bowl MVP in the same year.
After winning another MVP in 2001 and taking the Rams to the Super Bowl again, Warner’s star in St. Louis began to dim. An injury to his hand in 2002 basically ended his career as a Ram, ultimately losing his job to current Ravens backup QB, Marc Bulger.
He then was the stop-gap between Eli Manning and the NFL for the Giants in 2004, but ultimately Manning grabbed the starting job and Warner’s career looked to be not only over, but dead, as he went to the abyss known as the Arizona Cardinals, whose idea of a good quarterback over the years was Jake Plummer.
Things looked to be the same as they were in St. Louis and New York early on as Warner lost his job to Josh McCown and Matt Leinart, but with a budding offensive team around Warner, head coach Dennis Green began to see the Kurt Warner of the late 90’s yet again.
Ironically, it was against the Ravens in Week 4 that Warner stepped in for Leinart with the Cardinals trailing 20-6.
What did Warner do you ask? He only completed 15 of 20 passes for 258 yards and 2 TDs, which tied the ball game. All in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens eventually won on a last second field goal by Matt Stover, but that was the beginning of the end of the Matt Leinart era in Arizona as long as Warner was on the roster.
Warner was a key piece in the Cardinals’ run to the Super Bowl in 2008, who lost to the Steelers on a game-winning catch by Santonio Holmes.
He is only the second quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 100 TD passes for two different teams, as well as the only quarterback to throw for 14,000 yards for those teams.
One of his weapons for all those years in Arizona was Anquan Boldin, who came to the Ravens in the off-season for third and fourth round picks in this year’s draft. Somehow, it’s another Raven connection for Warner, and since Warner retired a few months back, he has been able to keep in contact with one of his former wide-outs about his new team.
“You guys are going to be in for a tremendous surprise,” Warner told Rex Snider during the “WNST Curing Cancer One Call at a Time” Marathon on Saturday.
“A lot of people think they know what Anquan brings to the table and what kind of a football player he is, but until you get a chance to see him, whether it be on a daily basis…he is a special football player.”
“And he brings an amazing leadership, competitiveness, and toughness to the football field. I guess its very much in the mold of what you think about when you think about Baltimore Ravens football.
Warner couldn’t be happier for a guy who really grew kind of disappointed with his experience out in Arizona the last few years waiting for a new contract.
“I’m excited for him,” Warner said. “It’s a new opportunity…one that I know he’s excited about.”
And now that he has even more time on hands after retiring in January, he also has taken quite an interest in the maturation of Joe Flacco as an NFL quarterback.
Flacco came to Warner’s charity flag football tournament in the off-season, and that was one of the first times Warner was able to chat with the third year man out of Delaware about what it takes to be a starter in this league.
And he got a good idea of how good Flacco is with a football in his hands just from him throwing footballs to 40-year old “corporate guys”.
“Obviously he’s big and hes strong, and he can make all the throws,” Warner said. “I’ve been very impressed with the times I have watched him and the times I’ve had to talked to him about what he brings to the table.”
And much like Boldin, Warner said Ravens fans are going to be surprised quickly how much of a bigger step he takes this year with guys like Boldin around him.
“I think he’s going to continue to get better and better. The big key for him is I think getting the pieces around him. Last year, Ray Rice came in and had a breakout, tremendous year and it took some of the pressure off Joe to have to throw the football.”
“Now you bring in guys like Anquan that I think are going to complement all the things they do, and allow some more of that pressure to come off Joe where he can continue to just relax, grow into the position, and not be called upon to do everything for that team, and specifically for that offense.”
WNST Thanks Kurt Warner for joining us over the Weekend for Our “Curing Cancer One Call at a Time Marathon” benefiting Harbor Hospital. If you still would like to donate, click here.