No player in NFL history reached 10,000 yards passing in less games and he tied Marino as fastest to reach 30,000.
He has the top three passing performances in Super Bowl history. His 1,156 yards passing in the 2008 playoffs broke the NFL record of 1,063 he set with St. Louis in 1999.
Cut by Green Bay in training camp, Warner played three seasons in the Arena Football League and one in NFL Europe, mixed in with a stint stocking grocery shelves back in Iowa.
Warner made the Rams as a backup in 1998, then was thrust into the starting role in 1999 when Trent Green was injured.
What followed was a masterful and wholly unexpected season, when he led the Rams to a 13-3 regular-season record, then a Super Bowl triumph over Tennessee. He was the league and Super Bowl MVP.
Warner had the Rams back in the big game in 2001, where “The Greatest Show on Turf” lost a squeaker to New England. That season he earned his second MVP.
But after an injury-plagued 2002 season, he was sacked six times and suffered a concussion in a 2003 season-opening loss to the New York Giants. He never started for St. Louis again.
He signed a free agent contract with the Giants for 2004, but was replaced by rookie Eli Manning after nine games. Warner came to the Cardinals in 2005 and was an off-and-on starter before replacing the injured Leinart part way through the 2007 season.
Warner had to beat out Leinart the following year, then led the Cardinals to the NFC West crown and three playoff victories before the narrow loss to Pittsburgh in last year’s Super Bowl, where he threw for 377 yards.
He called that season the crowning achievement of his career.
Warner and his wife operate the First Things First Christian charitable foundation. Last year, he was named the NFL’s Man of the Year for his off-field and on-field accomplishments.
“We all learned great lessons from Kurt’s humility, dignity and grace. We will forever be thankful for the success he brought us and the unparalleled generosity he has shown the St. Louis community and beyond,” Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom said in a statement.
Warner’s departure leaves Leinart the presumed replacement. The former Heisman Trophy winner has started 17 games for Arizona but only one in the last two years.
Warner said he plans to spend time watching his children grow up, do some preaching and perhaps get into football broadcasting.
He knows what he wants his legacy to be.
“It’s not the way I threw the football, it’s not particular games that I won, but that they remember that here’s a guy that believed, that worked hard,” he said. “Although things didn’t always go in his favor, he continued to press through, and with his faith in himself and his faith in God, he was able to accomplish great things.”
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PFT Daily: A look at Warner's career
Jan. 28: Mike Florio looks back at Kurt Warner's career and discusses whether he will be Hall of Fame bound.
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