Without a robust Arena League or the long-defunct World League, Kurt Warner may have never been anything more to the NFL community than a guy to whom people would say, “Hey, you have the same name as the guy who played running back for the Seahawks.” (Like the attitude, only spelled different.)
Warner (Kurt not Curt) therefore believes that it’s important for the NFL to have a true developmental league.
“[T]here’s a lot of these young guys that are extremely talented and have great college careers but they’re never prepared for what takes place at the next level,” Warner said during a recent visit to PFT Live. “So I think that’s why you’re seeing a very NFL-star league when you’re talking about quarterbacks because a lot of these guys, it’s just tough for them to develop. They’ve never learned it and so now they’re trying to learn it at the highest level and it’s just hard to do. So I worry about that greatly that there’s no place, no training ground, no opportunity for them to play, and I say that I think that was the greatest thing for me.”
Getting released by the Packers in 1994 laid the foundation for those opportunities in other football leagues.
“From the time I got cut with Green Bay until the day I retired, Brett Favre did not miss a single start . . . not a single start. So had I stayed there, if anything I’m a backup for whatever number of years if I ever get an opportunity to start yet while other people were sitting on the bench, I went and played in a whole bunch of football games. Three years in Arena Football, over in NFL Europe. Arena Football was like the two-minute drill every time. You were expected to score, you had to make plays and I learned how to play football. I don’t think there’s any experience that can get you ready to play like playing and that’s what I think is the hard part is there’s no place for these guys to go and develop and learn how to play the quarterback position.”
With a new spring league launching and the CFL and AFL both around (albeit barely), young quarterbacks who can’t get live reps in the NFL should embrace any chance they get to play. Tim Tebow should have done it. Vince Young should have done it. Johnny Manziel should be doing it.
If Kurt Warner hadn’t, he surely wouldn’t be standing next to a bronze bust in August and wearing a gold jacket that actually looks more like mustard than gold but mustard jacket doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.