With the Pittsburgh Steelers victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers’ wide receiver Santonio Holmes walked away with the games Most Valuable Player, but Kurt Warner walked away with the most important award before the game even started. The Walter Payton Man of the Year award is given out to honor a player’s volunteer and charity work as well as excellence on the field.
This year, Kurt Warner finished second in the league in passing yards, completion percentage, and also threw for 30 touchdowns. His off field heroics, however, are what matter most. In 2001 Warner set up the First Things First Foundation, and contributed more than $1.5 million of his own money to fund trips for Make-A-Wish families, build homes for underprivileged families and Punt, Pass and Kick clinics with Special Olympians.
Once the Super Bowl got underway, Warner played brilliantly. Questions of his Hall of Fame worth emerged after Warner almost had his Cardinals upsetting the heavily favored Steelers in the Super Bowl. Those questions have a myriad of answers: absolutely, definitely, positively, and without doubt. To sum that up, yes.
Warner led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory in 2000 over the Tennessee Titans, and then two years later brought them back to face the Patriots only to lose on a last second Vinatieri field goal. With this being his third Super Bowl start, one name comes to mind for comparison purposes: Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Judging by Warner’s Super Bowl appearances alone, his chances of being nominated to the Hall of Fame are decent, but if you take a closer look, Warner is an obvious choice for the Hall.
At this point in time, both quarterbacks played in the NFL for 10 seasons: Kelly from 1986 to 1996, and Warner from 1998 to 2008. Kelly did lead his Bills to an unprecedented four consecutive Super Bowl appearances, only to lose all of them. Warner has been to three, and has won one, and he has what it takes to get into Canton.
In Kelly’s ten seasons, he played 14 games or more eight times, compared to Warner’s four times. In his career, Kelly played a total of 160 games, whereas Warner only played 110. Kelly has threw for 35,467 yards in his career, and despite playing 50 less games, Warner has thrown for 28,591 yards, which is 6,876 less than Kelly (or in Warner’s world, a little less than 2 seasons worth of yards). If you take Warner’s career average of 259.9 yards per game, once Warner hits his 160th game, his total would skyrocket to 41,586 yards for his career.
During Kelly’s time in Buffalo, he threw for 30 touchdowns only once, in 1991. Warner has accomplished that feat three times, and throwing for 41 touchdowns back in 1999. Warner is also a more accurate passer, completing 65.4 % of his passes, compared to 60.1 % for Kelly. If you take Warner’s career averages and factor in him playing 160 games, his totals would be better than Kelly’s in every aspect. Warner would throw 264 touchdown passes to Kelly’s 237, and Warner would throw less interceptions, 165 to Kelly’s 175. Warner would also have over 6,000 more passing yards than Kelly as well.
One final point is this: When Jim Kelly was 37 years old, he was partaking in his first season as a retired professional football player. At 37, Warner was busy throwing for 4,583 yards, 30 touchdowns during the regular season, and leading his team against the vaunted Steelers defense while throwing for 377 yards, three touchdowns, all while completing 72% of his passes.
As you can see, Warner is a Hall of Famer. His stats and off field contributions back him up as well as his Super Bowl ring. Even in defeat, he played valiantly. Still not convinced? Warner has thrown for more yards in Super Bowl games than the great Joe Montana (1,156 to Montana’s 1,142), even though Montana played in four Super Bowls compared to Kurt’s three. As you can clearly see, Kurt Warner definitely has what it takes to get into Canton.