Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner’s journey to Canton, Ohio, is a legendary one.
Before he became a star gunslinger for the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals, Warner had to prove himself in the Arena Football League. After failing to win a job backing up Brett Favre on the Green Bay Packers, Warner constantly tried getting back into the NFL.
Instead of joining NFL immortality, Warner could have starred for the Chicago Bears. That is, if not for a wedding and a spider.
Kurt Warner famously played in the Arena League
After going undrafted in 1994, Kurt Warner spent that year’s preseason with the Green Bay Packers.
With Brett Favre already starting at quarterback, Warner had to beat out Mark Brunell and former Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer for a backup job. However, Green Bay cut Warner before the regular season began, and he went to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to stock shelves at a grocery store for $5.50 an hour.
Warner signed with the Iowa Barnstormers, an Arena Football League team, in 1995. He quickly became a star quarterback there and earned first-team All-Arena honors in 1996 and 1997.
The St. Louis Rams signed Warner to a futures contract after his brilliant 1997 season.
Warner later got his chance with the St. Louis Rams
All Kurt Warner needed was an opportunity, and he more than took advantage.
Warner spent the 1998 season backing up Tony Banks on the St. Louis Rams. When new starter Trent Green suffered an injury in the 1999 preseason, Rams coach Dick Vermeil stuck with Warner and named him the starter.
Football fans can recite the rest of the story by heart. Warner won the NFL MVP Award and led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory over Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans a few months later.
Warner held onto the starting job until he and the Rams parted ways following the 2003 season. From 1999-2001, Warner completed 67.2% of his passes for 12,612 yards, 98 touchdowns, and 53 interceptions in a Rams uniform.
Warner earned first-team All-Pro honors in 1999 and 2001, two seasons which won him the MVP Award. Warner also nearly led the Rams to a second Super Bowl victory in February 2002.
Tom Brady and the Patriots famously began their first dynasty with a game-winning field goal to knock off Warner and the Rams.
Kurt Warner could have played for the Chicago Bears
In an alternate universe, Kurt Warner became an NFL legend in the Windy City rather than the Gateway to the West.
“I ran and told my wife that next Friday I’m going to Chicago for a tryout with the Bears. She kind of looked at me funny and I asked her why aren’t you excited for me. She goes, ‘Well, cause we’re getting married on Saturday, you’re not going to Chicago the day before our wedding.’ When the Bears called, I forgot all about it!”
If Warner had any hopes of meeting with the Bears after the ceremony, nature went and interfered. A spider bit Warner on his throwing elbow that weekend, and he couldn’t throw at a tryout.
Warner later tried rescheduling with the Bears, but he never heard back. Less than a year later, Warner joined the St. Louis Rams, and the rest is history.