Hey, who remembers Kurt Warner?
You know, that hunky, God-fearing quarterback Rams coach Dick Vermeil scrounged up from a Iowa grocery store in 1998? The guy who became the starter in 1999 after the Rams starting quarterback left the field in agony? The backup who put the team on his back, won a Super Bowl, lost another and then -- seemingly overnight -- turned into an interception slingin', fumblin' machine?
St. Louisans may have their reservations about Warner, but we think most would agree he is, for better or worse, ours. Ours and not, say, the Arizona Cardinals', whose front office announced last week that it would be inducting Warner into its Ring of Honor during halftime of its season opener on September 5.
Fifteen years have passed since Warner won a Super Bowl with St. Louis, but there's no indication that the Rams Ring of Fame will be inducting the leader of "the Greatest Show on Turf" anytime soon. That doesn't sit right with us, and we have five reasons why.
1. Because Warner's Cinderella Story is a St. Louis Story, Not an Arizona One
It's fair to wonder what would have happened had the Rams not rescued Warner from a life of arena football and bagging groceries. More than a decade later, the sequence of events that brought the unknown quarterback into the NFL limelight can't be beat for sheer drama, and not even Friday Night Lights can lay a finger on Warner's journey from zero to Super Bowl hero.
Sure, Warner can opine all he wants about how the Cardinals believed in him in 2005, when nobody thought he could he "get back to that point" of his best playing days -- but the Rams believed in Warner when he didn't have two league MVPs and a Super Bowl win under his belt. When coach Vermiel declared "We'll rally around Kurt Warner, and we will play good football" before ever seeing the guy throw a pass with the starters, that was belief, and the Rams should fight to take credit for the results.
2. Because Warner Made the Single Worst Play of His Career as a Cardinal
We admit, this is a cheap shot, but Warner's interception to Steelers linebacker James Harrison in the waning seconds of the first half Superbowl XLIII is still, six years later, stunningly, butt-clenchingly horrendous to watch. Not only did he make a bad throw, but Warner badly missed an open shot to tackle Harrison along the sideline to prevent the touchdown. In a game that was decided by a Steelers last-second score, we think it's fair to say Warner lost the Super Bowl with that interception.
Granted, Warner had his rough moments in St. Louis, and yeah, he got beat by a young Tom Brady, but Warner never whiffed like this while wearing the blue and gold. Watch the video above, and at the eighteen-second mark, keep an eye out for Warner's No. 13 jersey entering from the right side of the screen...
We bet no Rams fan could ever forget Warner's most iconic throw...
3. Because Warner-to-Proehl Still Sends Shivers Down Our Spines
The game-winning lob to put the Rams in the 1999 Super Bowl was something to behold, and it still is. In fact, we can't stop beholding it, and neither should the Rams.
4. Because We Ran Him Out of Town
We'll be the first to admit it, but historically St. Louis has not always been super nice to our celebrity sports heroes, especially if those heroes spouted a never-ending stream of God talk during the pregame interviews. By 2002 Warner's self-destructive drive to play through a hand injury and a sudden case of interceptionitis caused fans to leap off the bandwagon, flip it over and torch it.
But that doesn't mean the Rams should forget the good years, the 1999, 2000 and 2001 seasons that, for a few shining moments, turned a baseball town into the home of the Greatest Show on Turf. If Marshall Faulk did enough to make it to the Ring of Fame in 2011, Warner deserves to be there just as much -- if not more.
5. Because Michael Sam Isn't Enough to Distract Us from the Rams' Awfulness
Folks, the Rams have mostly been terrible since Warner got the boot in 2004. The team hasn't posted a winning record since 2003, and that was the season Warner got benched for Marc Bulger.
Basically, it's been a rough ride for fans since Warner left, and it sure as hell would be nice to experience some positive associations for the team again -- especially when the team's owner could be planning to move the Rams back to LA.. In a way, the Rams are banking on the team's off-the-field appeal this season in the form of openly gay lineman Michael Sam, but that's just not enough to get our blood pumping: We want to remember what winning feels like, and for that we need to remember -- and honor -- what Warner accomplished in his three great seasons here.
Multiple columnists have pointed out that (with few exceptions) the Rams' Ring of Fame is reserved for players inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Fine, don't put Warner into the Ring of Fame, but at least retire the guy's jersey, or throw a party for the fifteenth anniversary of winning the Super Bowl. Help us out, Rams: Do something to demonstrate that Warner's story is, inherently and forever, a St. Louis one.