35° Good Morning
35° Good Morning

Warner joining Morton's Super Bowl club

Craig Morton usually doesn't enjoy this time of the year, but now that he's become the answer to the hottest trivia question surrounding Super Bowl XLIII, it's a little easier to take.

For more than 30 years, Morton was the only player to start at quarterback for two different franchises in the Super Bowl. He was under center for the Cowboys in Super Bowl V and also led the Broncos to Super Bowl XII. On Feb. 1, Kurt Warner will join him in that accomplishment.

"It was an exclusive club," Morton said with a chuckle.

It's still pretty tough to gain membership. Warner started two Super Bowls for the Rams and will start a third for the Cardinals in Tampa.

The key to induction is to have a long career -- Morton played 18 years in the NFL -- and have at least one team give up on you.

"You have to be a little older to get this," Morton said, "otherwise one team would certainly keep you around."

These days Morton, 65, works as the major gift officer at his alma mater, the University of California. After he left the NFL, he coached the Denver Gold of the USFL. His number was retired by the Broncos -- it's actually been retired twice; some guy named John Elway also wore the number 7 -- and in 1992 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

But Morton is best known for his two Super Bowl appearances, neither of which was particularly memorable.

Morton and Warner have several other things in common besides their stewardship of two franchises to the sport's ultimate game. For one, both had stints with the Giants between their Super Bowl appearances.

Warner was with the Giants for one season, and although he started nine games in 2004, he was only keeping the position warm until Eli Manning took over.

Morton was traded from the Cowboys to the Giants in the middle of the 1974 season and played the next two full seasons for them. He threw 29 touchdown passes and 49 interceptions during his tenure.

"My time with the Giants, I just loved everything about it," Morton said, "but our team was so bad."

The Giants won eight games in Morton's 21/2 years. In that time they called three buildings their home: the Yale Bowl, Shea Stadium and, finally, Giants Stadium.

"I always wanted to play for the Giants, but we were in disarray," he said. "We didn't have a stadium to play in. Management was not really solid."

Morton said he and Warner also share the excitement of generating interest in a team that had not found much previous success.

"Denver was not a sports city by any means, and all of a sudden, it was turned into a sports town," he said of the buildup to Super Bowl XII. "People went bananas. I'm sure Kurt is having that experience with the Cardinals."

The one thing that separates Warner and Morton is a ring. Both of Morton's trips to the Super Bowl ended in losses, and he had subpar games in each of them. He had three interceptions in Super Bowl V against the Colts, a game that often is referred to as "The Stupor Bowl" because of its sloppy play. Then he completed only 4 of 15 passes, four of which were intercepted, before being yanked from Super Bowl XII, a game played against his former team, the Cowboys.

"I don't like thinking about my Super Bowls," he said. "I don't particularly like this time of year. They keep showing all those old films."

But this year, when they talk about Morton, it won't be in the context of worst Super Bowl performances by a quarterback. It'll be about Morton leading two teams to the brink of a championship, about being considered the worst quarterback in the NFL one year and playing for a title in Denver the next.

And if Warner wins, well, he can start his own club. The one for quarterbacks who have won a Super Bowl with two different teams. Morton hopes that happens. "I would like to see him do it," he said. "His is a phenomenal story."

As for Morton's club of one doubling in size?

"I'll welcome him in," he said. "The more the merrier."

New York Sports