CANTON, Ohio — Even now, one day before his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Kurt Warner remains enthralled by his inclusion in Canton.
Others aren’t so surprised.
“You don’t hear about a lot of similar stories in sports where a guy takes advantage of his opportunities like (Kurt) did,” said NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcaster Al Michaels. “The guy everyone knew in St. Louis at that point in time was Trent Green. No one really knew who Kurt Warner was.”
Now, eight years away from the game and one step away from football glory, Warner’s story will have a chance to leave an impact unlike any other.
His former teammate in St. Louis and the first Arizona Cardinals player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Aeneas Williams, knows Warner’s story is an all too special one.
“What kid hears (Kurt’s) story and doesn’t feel like they can do anything?,” Williams said. “It doesn’t take the limits off of parents who sit down with their kids and say, ‘Let me tell you about Kurt Warner’s story. Let me tell you about the odds of him coming from the Arena Football League and going on to become a two-time MVP of the NFL. Let me tell you about the guy who took two franchises who had never gone to the Super Bowl before and look at the impact he had on those teams.’”
Still, Warner remains awed by the moment and the reality that each inductee into the Hall of Fame has an equally important journey to share.
“People always talk about my story as if it stands alone,” Warner said. “But, what you know is, everybody has a story.”
As he reflects on his unlikely path, Warner is most emphatic about being in Canton and learning more about the stories that each inductee has to share. With a number of events comprising Enshrinement Week, it’s a perfect opportunity for him to do just that.
And to gain a grasp of his meaning in Canton and why his story matters.
“Everybody is unique and I love to hear the speeches and really get to understand these guys’ lives before their NFL careers,” he said. “I want to know how these guys got here, what brought them here, and the hurdles that they overcame to get to this point.”
“I’ve really just enjoyed getting to know the men behind the player and I look forward to the opportunity to do more of that tonight, tomorrow, and in the future.”
It’s a true wonder that Warner is still unable to gain a grasp of his meaning in Canton. His career is highlighted by three Super Bowl appearances with two different franchises, and two NFL MVP honors. No small feat for a quarterback who went under the radar to leave a lasting mark on the game.
Now, just 24 hours away from the Induction Ceremony and his speech to millions of people all around the world, Warner has nailed down one moment from the week thus far that has encapsulated him the most. A moment that best exemplifies who he really is.
“The all moment for me with all of this is to realize that these guys that you tried to emulate and grew up watching and were your heroes, actually know your story,” Warner said. “You come into this and you automatically feel like you don’t belong here and then to have guys come up to you and tell you what your career meant to them — it’s hard to put that into words.
“I think that’s truly the all part, when you don’t understand how you fit in and people start to tell you how you impacted them.”