Kurt Warner and the Curse of the Cardinals (Part 1)

The next month is going to be a big one for the Arizona Cardinals.  At 4-2, and playing in the pathetic NFC West, the Cardinals will have an opportunity to all but lock up a playoff spot, with three of the games against its lackluster division opponents.  However, we’re talking about the NFL’s most historically inept franchise, so it would probably surprise no one if the Cards managed to lose at least three of those games.

The next month is also an important one for Kurt Warner, in my opinion, because I think he has a chance to greatly enhance his candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he can lead the Cardinals to the playoffs (especially if the Cardinals were to win a game or two once they got there).   Here are some relevant numbers for Warner:

2 MVP awards

Super Bowl MVP award

3 Pro Bowls

52-39 record as a starting QB

164 TDs, 105 INTs

93.8 career passing rating

I’m not sure any quarterback has ever had a career like Warner’s.   He basically came out of nowhere at age 27 to put up three brilliant seasons in a row, winning 35 games and a Super Bowl as a starter in those three years.  However, other than that he’s really only had two other seasons as a starting quarterback in the NFL (21 combined starts in those two years), with one of those being last year, at age 36.  Generally Hall of Fame quarterbacks don’t start so late and don’t spend a significant part of their careers as backups.  52 wins as a starter doesn’t compare to most of the guys with busts in Canton, even those with delayed or interrupted careers; for example, Roger Staubach won 85 games as a starter, Steve Young 94, and Warren Moon 102.  Of the “modern era” QBs in the Hall, I think the one with the fewest starter wins is Joe Namath, with 63.

There are many fine non-Hall quarterbacks with lots of starter wins and a healthy winning percentage, like Phil Simms (95 wins), Ken Stabler (96), and Joe Theismann (77).

Among current quarterbacks with solid winning records, there are Hall of Fame locks like Brett Favre (163 career starter wins), Peyton Manning (108) and Tom Brady (86).  Donovan McNabb is plugging away with 76 career wins, and Brad Johnson (if you still count him as current, after that game against the Rams) has 71.  Matt Hasselbeck has 58.  Then there is Ben Roethlisberger, who already has 44 at age 26!  He’s younger than Warner was when Warner debuted in the league.

What I’m trying to say is that to this point Kurt Warner doesn’t have a lot to offer as part of a Hall of Fame resume other than that one three-year stretch – but that was one incredible stretch.  He’s kind of the Terrell Davis of quarterbacks.

As of right now, I don’t see him getting in the Hall.  However, a season of success with the Cardinals could change that.  Because, you see, it’s not like he would be making a run with a franchise that you might expect to win every now and then.  He would be making it with the Cardinals.

I want to delve a little deeper into Cardinals history (curses included), which I think is rather interesting, much like a train wreck can be interesting, but that would make for a very long post.   What I’m going to do is break this up into two parts, and the Cardinals history (along with some concluding thoughts about Warner) will be in Part 2.  I’ll post that either later tonight or sometime tomorrow.

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