â†µFollowing the beating Warner took in the second round against the Saints, during which he was briefly forced to leave the game after taking a vicious block by a defensive lineman following an interception, he said, "I pray that God takes away my desire to play this game." The desire may very well linger, but Warner is making the smart move to exit now, following a season where his head injuries were beginning to show signs of possible lasting effects. â†µâ†µ
â†µFor a guy who wasn't a starter in the NFL until the age of 28, Warner left behind a resume that few in the game now could match over even lengthier careers. A two-time MVP NFL who appeared in three Super Bowls and won one should be a lock for Canton. There might be some debate whether he's in during his first year of eligibility, but make no mistake, Warner will make it, especially with no character issues or disdain for the media that causes deserving candidates to be held up. â†µâ†µ
â†µEven a mid-career dip in production during his final year in St. Louis, his stint with the Giants and first year in Arizona (when Warner was being lambasted as little more than a faded fumbling machine) doesn't tarnish what was otherwise a player who established himself at his best as one of the five best quarterbacks of his generation. â†µâ†µ
â†µFrom here, where the Cardinals go is anyone's guess. There's no reason to believe the team should have any faith left in Matt Leinart to transform into a franchise quarterback, nor is much indication that they do harbor those hopes. With the porous defense that was on display during the playoffs, the Cardinals cannot hope to contend with any appreciable dip in offensive production. But then there are no quarterbacks available via free agency or the draft this year that would get them anywhere close to the output that they could have with Kurt under center. â†µâ†µ
â†µUnless they come across a solution this year or the next, the years of Kurt Warner in the desert could represent a fleeting blip of relevancy for the Cardinals. Which, even though he was succeeded by a statistically sound quarterback in Marc Bulger, is what he also did for the Rams. As much as it can be turned into a gag about his outward displays of faith, in a strict football sense Warner was the savior of two downtrodden NFL franchises. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.