What may have been the last big NFL event ever for St. Louis lived up to the billing with Kurt Warner’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Warner’s story is perhaps the greatest ever in sports, so to have it capped off at football’s summit was fitting.
On Thursday, Warner held a large get together at a Canton country club for people that were part of his journey, and the respect shown was fitting. Former St. Louis teammates London Fletcher, Aeneas Williams, Ernie Conwell, Marshall Faulk and Orlando Pace attended. So did coaches Dick Vermeil, Al Saunders, John Ramsdell and Mike White, and front office executives Jay Zygmunt and Charley Armey.
Yes, Stan Kroenke, Kevin Demoff and Roger Goodell attended, but this person and this event were too special for anyone to have it spoiled by their presence. In fact, I said to myself “WWKD,” What Would Kurt Do? When those two were in the room. Warner comports himself with total class, and those around him pick up on that and emulate him.
To top it off, Warner invited other Hall of Famers, and stars like Erik Dickerson, Lawrence Taylor, Will Shields, Claude Humphrey and Roger Wehrli showed up. At the end of the evening, so did Larry Fitzgerald. The level of admiration among those guys for what Kurt accomplished was obvious.
Throughout the weekend in Canton, there were more Warner 13 jerseys visible than there were for any of the other inductees. There were certainly more St. Louisans in attendance than for any other city. Denver, with Terrell Davis inducted, was second. San Diego for LaDanian Tomlinson, Miami for Jason Taylor, Seattle for Kenny Easley and New Orleans for Morten Andersen didn’t have as much support as St. Louis did for Warner.
For Saturday’s ceremony Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Tom Nutten and Jim Hanifan arrived. It was like old times for those guys. When championship teams get back together, it’s as if they’ve never been apart. With the Greatest Show on Turf, they built that bond in St. Louis and they appreciate the fans that supported them.
One other note about this induction….about this cap to a magnificent quarterbacking career. Warner has something no other QB will. As great as Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and Tom Brady in New England have been, someone can play better in that town. Bart Starr had someone play better in Green Bay. Dan Fouts had someone play better in San Diego. Roger Staubach had someone play better in Dallas.
Nobody will ever play quarterback better in St. Louis than Warner did. That run is over, and we saw one of the best ever. Deservingly, the greatest quarterback to ever play in St. Louis…ever…is now immortalized at the Pro Football Hall of fame for eternity.