Cleat Geeks

Warner Get’s Enshrined

As the summer days seemingly never end, the opposite could be said about the ever approaching start to NFL football. (as of Friday June 30th) With only 33 agonizing summer day’s left until the Arizona Cardinals strap ’em up on August 3rd in the annual Hall of Fame Game, against hated old ex-NFC East foe Dallas Cowboys, the dawn of the NFL season is officially on the horizon. The lengthy 26 week NFL off-season, like summer did every year as a kid, naturally seems to come to a screeching halt with that initial HOF game. That will hold truer than ever this year, as the NFL moved the game up 3 days from the usual Sunday slot to Thursday the 3rd. The headlining opening game, which was cancelled last season due to poor field conditions, will be the commencement of not only the NFL exhibition season, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame (HOF) weekend ceremonies.

The nostalgia that opening game will bring is fine & dandy but the fact that most of the starters will play no more than 1 series, if at all, will make for a difficult watch for even the biggest of die hards by the 2nd half. The main reason all the eyes around the football world, especially in the desert, will be glued to Canton, Ohio that weekend will be for the Pro Football HOF induction ceremony, which is that Saturday, August 5th. That is where the greatest Quarterback in Cardinal franchise history, Kurt Warner, will be inducted into the Pro Football HOF. Warner will be the 17th member of the Cardinal family to enter football lore and only the 2nd “QB” to ever don a Cardinal uniform to enter. The other being John “Paddy” Driscoll, who played the Chicago Cardinals from 1920-1925 & led the franchise to 1 of it’s 2 World Championships in 1925.

To call Driscoll only a quarterback would be a disservice to the man who epitomized the word “Franchise Player.” Directly of the Pro Football Hall of Fame website: “The term ‘franchise player’ is used to describe a star who, by the excellence of his play on the field, plays a major role in his team’s success or, in some cases, its very existence. John “Paddy” Driscoll, who excelled as a quarterback, & half back, proved himself to be a franchise player of the rarest kind.” Not only was Driscoll one of the best quarterback/running backs of his time, he played wide receiver and undoubtedly the best 3 way player in NFL history. “Flawless on defense” is the description the Hall uses about the 1965 inductee. But it was his excellence on Special Teams that stood Driscoll apart from anyone else, as he was not only an electric Punt/Kick returner he was also the games best punter and field goal drop-kicker. He not only holds the record with 4 successful drop-kick field goals in one game, even more impressively “Paddy” once drop-kicked a 50-yard field goal in 1924! With that being said, he actually ended up with more receiving touchdowns (3) than he did passing (2) in his 5 years with the franchise, compared to 13 as a rusher. So to call Kurt Warner the single greatest pure quarterback in Cardinal franchise history would not be much of a stretch.

His rag’s to riches, grocery stocker to Super Bowl MVP story has been very much publicized. Including the seven 2017 inductee’s, of the 310 member’s, Warner will become only the 16th undrafted player to ever to elected into the HOF. The Burlington, Iowa native, who never started for Northern Iowa until his Senior year was a non-roster invitee to Green Bay Packer’s training camp his rookie year in 1994 but was released before ever appearing in an NFL game. His famed professional football career began in his home state for the Iowa Barnstormer’s of the now Indoor Football League, & ended with a vicious blind-sided hit in the 2009 playoffs as a member of the Cardinals. In between, Kurt was nothing less than spectacular. When given his opportunity, he proved to be one of the best Quarterbacks in NFL history, a tactician on the gridiron that cut through defenses like a hot knife through butter. Even though he actually started 7 more games as a Cardinal (57) than as a Ram (50), Warner’s greatest accolades came in St. Louis, where he led the franchise to 2 Super Bowl appearances. There he was a 2x regular season MVP and the 1999 Super Bowl MVP.

Here in the desert, he brought rise to a franchise that historically has had some of the darkest and deepest valley’s in all of sports, as he brought the lowly Cardinals into the national spotlight. Conducting one of the greatest underdog team’s in all of professional sports to their first and only Super Bowl Appearance in 2008, Warner sent Cardinal fans everywhere in a frenzy, when he hit Larry Fitzgerald over the middle of the field, who then proceeded to dust the Pittsburgh Steeler’s defense for a 64 yard touchdown reception to take the lead with 2:37 remaining in

Super Bowl 43. In 3 Super Bowl Appearances, the undrafted HOF’er was 1-2, but still holds 3 of the top 5 single-game passing yardage’s in Super Bowl History, with the only other player on the list being 4x Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady.

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However you choose to cherish Kurt on that August 5th day, just remember those wide-ranging feeling of emotions that he and the 2008 team brought to you individually. By the end, he helped mold our state into what we are today, a very large football town. Most memorably, Warner aided in the bonding of family, friend’s, co-workers, acquaintances & in some cases even complete stranger’s in a way that native Arizonan’s & Cardinal fans all over the world had never experienced before or since. Now that’s some nostalgia to chew on.

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