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 story 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 Rams, got back to the title game a year later and experienced a remarkable resurgence with the 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.
Consider: His 65.5 completion percentage ranks second in NFL history, behind only Chad Pennington's 66.1.
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 (66.5) 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.
What's next for McNabb?
McNabb said this week at the Pro Bowl in Miami that he wants to remain in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future. And coach Andy Reid said after the Eagles' loss to the Cowboys in the wild-card round that McNabb will be his starter in 2010.
But it remains to be seen what, if anything, the Eagles will do with either or both quarterbacks. Kolb is viewed as the heir apparent to McNabb, but the Eagles could decide to let the situation play out next season before making a long-term commitment to either.
The interesting part: Both are signed through the 2010 season. If neither is given a contract extension before then, it could signal the eventual end for McNabb and/or Kolb in Philadelphia.
The operative phrase here: stay tuned.
Controversial coach back
Ordinarily, the hiring of a defensive line coach isn't big news in the NFL. But the Jaguars' hiring this week of Joe Cullen has raised some eyebrows around the league.
Cullen is a former assistant with the Detroit Lions who was arrested twice in a week in 2006 and was suspended for a game by the Lions. He also was fined $20,000 by the NFL.
Cullen was arrested on a charge of indecent and obscene conduct after pulling up to a fast food drive-through naked. The second arrest was for driving under the influence.
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, whose team had the fewest sacks (14) in the NFL last season, said he received permission from team owner Wayne Weaver before making the hire. Del Rio said Cullen, who has admitted to an alcohol problem, has been sober for more than three years.
Holmgren willing to coach?
Shortly after taking over as president of the Browns, former Packers and Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren opted to retain coach Eric Mangini. Now the question is whether Holmgren might one day take over if Mangini can't improve on a 5-11 record in 2009.
Holmgren readily admits he still doesn't know if he has coaching out of his system. And with no long-term allegiance to Mangini, it's possible Holmgren could decide to hire himself as the coach in the coming years.
If it happens, Holmgren will have several familiar faces around. He already has hired Kent Johnston as the team's strength and conditioning coach, a role Johnston served for Holmgren in Green Bay and Seattle. Scout A.J. Durso was Holmgren's football operations assistant in Seattle. And vice president of football operations Mark Schiefelbein worked with Holmgren in Green Bay.
We were told there was "zero chance" that Holmgren would take over this year, and that proved to be true. Sounds as if that might not last, though.