In Monday’s Gazette, written in the heat of the moment after Sunday night’s Super Bowl, I suggested the thing Kurt Warner would be remembered most for from the game was the interception that Pittsburgh’s James Harrison returned 100 yards for a touchdown.
A couple of days and a thousand miles removed from Tampa, I withdraw the opinion.
Listening to and reading a considerable number of opinions from people in the national sports media, it is high-def clear that admiration of Warner as a player only rose after his Arizona Cardinals’ 27-23 loss to the Steelers.
Harrison’s pick was one moment gone awry. Warner’s fourth-quarter was a superb piece of work that has deservedly been noted and praised by all sorts of folks.
Had any Cardinal capitalized on any of the team’s multiple opportunities to stop Harrison from reaching the end zone on his return of the interception, Warner is a two-time Super Bowl MVP today.
He would have been on David Letterman’s show Monday, and all sorts of new books about him would have hit the stores by the end of this month.
That’s how the ball bounces in sports.
Warner and Peyton Manning have one Super Bowl ring, but Warner’s 8-3 postseason record dwarfs Manning’s 7-8, and Warner has been to three Super Bowls to Manning’s one.
Would Manning have taken this year’s Arizona team to the Super Bowl? We’ll never know. But we know he has played for several Indianapolis teams that were superior to the ’08 Cardinals and didn’t get to the big game.
A 1-2 record in Super Bowls isn’t remarkable, but Warner didn’t wilt in any of them. He did quite the opposite with the three top passing-yardage performances of all-time in the game.
The three most-prolific games for passing yardage have come from the same player, on two different teams. That alone says go directly to the Pro Football Hall of Fame five years after retirement.
The most total passing yardage (1,156) in Super Bowls is Warner’s. He had three starts. Joe Montana had four. John Elway had five.
In Warner’s two Super Bowl losses, his teams scored a total of four fourth-quarter touchdowns. They lost on a last-second 48-yard field goal to New England seven years ago and on the straight-to-immortality touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes Sunday.
There was no “choke” by anyone in the most- pressurized football game on the planet, least of all the Arizona quarterback.
“When you come to this game,” Warner said, “you want to be part of the greatest game. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of three great Super Bowl games. I am definitely proud of it.”
Had Warner not played well, those wouldn’t be among the three most-memorable Super Bowls.
I’m in the camp of those who think Sunday’s was the best Super Bowl ever. You could never get a handle on it. Once a team looked like it established itself as the dominator, it started getting dominated.
The offenses and defenses of both squads had stellar moments. The game’s final several minutes were fantastic. Players on both sides rose to the challenge.
The NFL, which knows how to do everything else to rule the world, has somehow finally figured out how to have compelling championship games.
Now, will Warner come back for more football? Some say no. Some say he’s had enough, that his life beyond football is more compelling to him right now, with seven kids at home and his First Things First Foundation that requires time and energy.
Warner is a free agent, but it seems unimaginable he would start over with another team.
He’s doing the wise thing by not jumping to any emotional decision.
The Cardinals will be vilified by their fans if they don’t make a serious effort to re-sign Warner, and the money offered will probably be enormous.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC says he doesn’t think Warner can retire because he’s playing too well.
But it’s assumed athletes hang on as long as they can for the competition and the money.
Don’t assume Warner is one of them.