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Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday …Kurt Warner

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Kurt Warner

Quarterback Kurt Warner was cut in training camp by the Green Bay Packers in 1994, then had a workout with the Chicago Bears fall through due to a scorpion sting he got on his honeymoon. After being cut by the Packers, Warner stocked shelves at a Hy-Vee supermarket in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He was a starter with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League and then continued to the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe before ultimately signing with the Rams as a backup to Tony Banks.

After Trent Green was injured in the 1999 pre-season and would miss the regular season, many speculated that the season was over for St. Louis. However, the Rams — and Warner in particular — lit up defenses throughout the league. Warner threw 41 touchdown passes, setting a new franchise mark, and his 109.2 quarterback rating was the third highest (for a minimum of 200 attempts) in a season next to Joe Montana (112.4) and Steve Young (112.8). (The record now is owned solely by Aaron Rodgers after his record-breaking 2011 season.)

The Rams finished 13-3, a franchise best record for the 16 game schedule (a mark which would be later broken by the 2001 Rams, when they finished 14-2). Offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s innovative variation on the Coryell offensive system suited Warner well; he threw only 13 interceptions during the regular season. For his innovation, Martz would be regarded as one of the most ingenious coordinators of his time. The Rams first demolished the Minnesota Vikings in a shoot-out in the divisional round, where Warner burned the Minnesota secondary for 391 yards and five touchdowns en route to victory. In the NFC Championship, the Rams faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coached by Tony Dungy. Facing one of the league’s best defenses, Warner had one of the worst post-season performances of his career, throwing three interceptions to the heavily loaded Buccaneers secondary which featured John Lynch, Donnie Abraham, and Ronde Barber. However, the Rams proved they were more than just a good offensive team, as they prevented Tampa Bay from scoring any touchdowns, allowed only two field goals, and intercepted Shaun King twice. Trailing 6-5 late in the 4th quarter, Warner engineered the game-winning drive culminating in the go-ahead touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl to send the Rams to the Super Bowl with an 11-6 victory.

Warner went on to throw for a Super Bowl record 414 yards, with two touchdown passes, including a dramatic 72-yard game winner to Isaac Bruce, against the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, winning Super Bowl MVP honors. He continued to play for the Rams through 2003.

Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes …Kurt Warner.

Career history
*Offseason and/or practice squad member only*
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Pass attempts 4,070
Pass completions 2,666
Percentage 65.5
TDINT 208–128
Passing yards 32,344
Passer rating 93.7

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