There is no debating the fact that Kurt Warner is one of the most astonishing sports stories we've ever seen, a journey so unlikely that it would stretch the bounds of imagination. Stocking shelves in an Iowa grocery store one day and then winning a Super Bowl title not long afterward?
In 12 NFL seasons, the 38-year-old quarterback won a Super Bowl in his first year as a starter with the St. Louis Rams, got back to the title game a year later and experienced a remarkable resurgence with the Arizona Cardinals after a five-year stretch marked by injury and ineffectiveness.
The beginning was incredible enough; the comeback might have been even more impressive, especially after he'd been considered only a serviceable backup once he lost his job as Giants starting quarterback to Eli Manning 10 games into the 2004 season.
But Warner hung around long enough to get another shot, beat out Arizona's Matt Leinart in 2007 and produced three more elite seasons, throwing for a combined 11,753 yards and 83 touchdowns in that period.
Now the question is: Was Warner's brilliance over a period of six elite seasons good enough to get him into the Hall of Fame?
The answer is yes.
There is sure to be debate about whether the fact that Warner was either hurt or ineffective from 2002-06 should derail his chances to earn pro football's greatest honor. But the way I see it, Warner's overall body of work should be good enough for enshrinement.
In comparison with the 14 quarterbacks to make the Hall of Fame in the last 25 years, Warner has a higher completion percentage, a higher yards-per-attempt average and a higher yards-per-game average.
Warner and Fran Tarkenton are the only NFL quarterbacks to throw for 100 TDs and 14,000 yards for each of two teams.
Warner's playoff performances were breathtaking. He has produced the three best passing games in Super Bowl history and ranks first in NFL playoff history in completion percentage (.665) and passing yards per game (304) and is second in passer rating (102.8). His six 300-yard postseason passing games are second only to Peyton Manning (seven).
Still troubled by the fact that Warner had only six elite seasons? Then how about this: That's exactly the number of transcendent seasons Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young had during his NFL career with the 49ers. Both Young and Warner threw for more than 3,000 yards six times; Warner had more than 4,000 yards three times to Young's two. And Warner threw at least 30 touchdown passes three times to Young's two.
Put it all together, and that should be good enough for Canton. Warner deserves to wear the yellow jacket five years from now.