ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
When Kurt Warner got mashed into the ground on a vicious but clean hit by New
Orleans defensive end Bobby McCray, I automatically assumed the worst.
We've just seen the end of Kurt's career.
And what a horrible, depressing way for him to go.
What were we supposed to think? Warner was rolling around on the turf, eyes
blinking. He seemed disoriented. He was in pain. He's 38 years old. He's
endured multiple injuries in his career, including five concussions. The Saints
were already up by two touchdowns in the second quarter of this NFC playoff
game, and would go on to win by 31.
When Warner threw that interception, looked to make a tackle, and ended up
blind-sided by McCray, it appeared to be the final blow.
Fortunately, the immediate repercussions weren't as severe as feared. Warner
was shaken up, but returned in the second half. That's good, but it still
doesn't ease the big-picture fears and the concerns over Warner's long-term
health and future.
I hope Warner will walk away from the game. What else does he have to prove? I
believe he's already done enough to warrant selection to the Pro Football Hall
Just look at a partial list of all that he's accomplished since entering the
NFL with the Rams in 1998: Two-time league MVP with the Rams; Super Bowl MVP
and championship with the Rams; three-highest passing-yardage days in Super
Bowl history; 52 300-yard games; the only NFL quarterback to throw 100
touchdown passes for two teams; nine postseason victories; the second-best
passer rating (102.8) in NFL postseason history; and guiding two down-and-out
franchises to the Super Bowl.
There's nothing left for Warner to gain, but he has much to lose. Kurt and wife
Brenda have seven children at home. As Warner told me in an interview earlier
this year, he wants to be healthy and vibrant and immersed in their lives.
Warner wants to enjoy being a grandfather some day — and without limitations
brought on by football-related debilitation. Warner has given 11 years of his
life to the NFL but says he wants to be sure that the best years of his life to
go to his family.
And it won't be easy for Warner to continue rebounding from injuries. After
all, it took him a few years to recover from the hand injuries, concussions and
harsh beatings he took in St. Louis before finally regenerating his career in
Arizona. And Warner was younger then. He'll be 39 if he chooses to play the
Last fall, the results of a preliminary study commissioned by the NFL indicated
that former NFL players have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or similar
memory-related diseases at a dramatically higher rate than the national average.
This is a brutal sport. Last week, Warner told reporters that he's noticed the
way defensive players seemed to be taking more swipes at his helmet. Defenders
aren't stupid; Warner has a history of concussions and if you want to stop the
Cardinals the best way is to knock No. 13 out of the game.
So why would a vulnerable Warner continue to put himself at risk?
After Saturday's loss, Warner confirmed that he's considering retirement.
"I have some ideas in my head," Warner said during the postgame news
conference. "But you want to get away from the season for a minute and make
sure what you're feeling stays that way. But I don't think it will be a long
As Brenda Warner told the New York Times this week, the decision is between
"Kurt and God." But based on previous comments, she'd undoubtedly favor
retirement. Seeing Brenda's televised reaction to the on-field violence in
Saturday's game only reinforced those thoughts.
Commenting to the NY Times about the concussion that her husband suffered at
the Edward Jones Dome in November, Brenda said: "I would give every dime I've
ever seen in my life to take that one blow to the head back. It does change
Sunday morning on the NFL Network, Marshall Faulk offered a prediction on his
close friend and former teammate.
"Knowing Kurt, I'm going to say that this is probably it for Kurt," Faulk said.
"Kurt is a competitor. But he understands that he has a family at home. And all
of the head trauma that we now have data about — about guys having concussions,
having dementia, and all of the other problems when you're done playing ...
"I'm pretty sure that Kurt and Brenda are weighing this. He's going to have
that discussion with her, and I think this year Brenda's going to win."
Warner is in position to do so many valuable, meaningful things with the rest
of his life. And that could be through his ministry work, his desire to help
the poor, his devotion to children, his motivational speaking or many
charitable causes. One Arizona columnist recently suggested that Warner could
become president of the United States if he wanted.
Hey, I wouldn't rule anything out with this man. Warner is a true American
original. But to fully realize all of his post-football goals, he must be
And if Kurt Warner can walk from the NFL with his mind and body intact, it'll
be the greatest triumph of his career.
KW for President
Has a nice ring to it.....I'd vote for you Kurt!