Yesterday, a relatively harmless story (especially considering TMZ’s standards) hit the 24-hour news cycle.
TMZ caught up with Kurt Warner for a quick soundbite and left with the following headline: Kurt Warner — I Feel More Allegiance to Arizona … Than St. Louis.
My first thought was, “Must have been a slow news day for TMZ.” My second thought was, “Of course he has more allegiance to Arizona. He lives there, he ended on much better terms there, and he played there recently enough that he still knows some players and many people within the organization whereas practically everyone from his Rams days has moved on.”
However, there was a small and dumb minority of Twitter users who were not pleased by the news.
Kurt warner is a disgrace to the rams organization after no one would give him a chance in the nfl the rams did
— Edi (@08arambulaE) April 3, 2014
@kurt13warner 1SB W , 2SB appearances 2MVP's , Greatest Show on Turf beloved by Rams fans but you consider yourself more a Card ? Wow man
— Aaron Mendoza (@aarunem) April 3, 2014
@kurt13warner stay bitter at that mgmt which really isn't even there anymore but what about the Rams fans ??? That's done BS Kurt
— Aaron Mendoza (@aarunem) April 3, 2014
— Rusty Mars (@MARS000MARS) April 3, 2014
I hate to formulate a whole column around this, but I feel like there are actually a decent amount of people – mostly Rams loyalists of course – who believe that Warner’s allegiance should be to the Rams because that’s who took a chance on him, that’s where he won his Super Bowl and that’s where he won his two MVPs,
However, not only did Warner play more games start and play in more games for Arizona than St. Louis, he played for them more recently. Yes, the Rams did give Warner a chance when his best career prospects appeared to be climbing the ladder at Hy-Vee. But that same organization also mismanaged the end of Warner’s tenure with the Rams. The Rams weren’t necessarily wrong to start Marc Bulger in 2002 after Warner injured his throwing hand. They weren’t even wrong to name Bulger the starter in 2003. After all, you can’t really argue with Bulger’s 18-4 record as a starter over that period of time. The Rams also did a decent job handling the cutting of Warner in 2004.
But the way the Rams went about the Warner/Bulger controversy gives Warner every right to hold a bit of a grudge. Mike Martz, who to be fair, was a big Warner supporter, talked out of both sides of his mouth pretty often. Here’s a telling quote from that SI article regarding Warner’s place with the 2003 Rams, after the team decided to pay his roster bonus and keep him on board.
In the end the Rams decided to keep Warner, convinced that his arm was sound. Six months later all is apparently well in St. Louis. Warner’s throwing hand, which has sustained three fractures (one in 2000 and two last year) and a sprained thumb, has mended. So, too, apparently, has the relationship between Warner and Martz, who says, “Kurt’s one of the kindest, sweetest people there is. He went through a very difficult time last season, and I didn’t help him much.” Asked whether Warner is vulnerable to losing his job to Bulger, Martz says, “No. Kurt Warner is our quarterback. If he falters, he’s still our quarterback.”
Of course, Warner didn’t end up being the starting quarterback in 2003, Bulger did. Warner was released that next summer and was widely thought to have a giant fork sticking out of his back.
After a middling year with the New York Giants that didn’t exactly answer many questions about Warner’s declining play, age and propensity of turning the ball over, the Arizona Cardinals decided to take a flyer on the 34-year-old by signing him to a one-year, $4 million deal. After living up to expectations, Warner was rewarded with a three-year, $18 million deal.
You know the rest. Warner outplayed the Cardinals’ first-round draft choice, Matt Leinart, and ended up leading the moribund Cardinals to a surprise Super Bowl appearance in 2008 (a game the Cardinals probably should have won if not for a couple of fluke plays – especially this one). He went on to play one more year at age 38 before hanging it up.
The bottom line is that both the Cardinals and the Rams gave Warner a shot when few, if any, other teams had interest. He played very well for both teams, created great memories for both teams and overall left a very positive impression on the fans of both franchises. However, he ended his career with the Cardinals on better terms than he did with the Rams, he lives in the Phoenix area, and he’s still connected to members in the organization that were left over from his playing days.
As the title of this article says, Warner has every right to show more allegiance to the Cards than the Rams.