Read a good movie lately? Well, get a box of Kleenex, your best
date and some Orville Redenbacher's, and try this one.
The Kurt Warner Story is the feel-good hit of the season, with a
screenplay so implausibly happy that even Disney wouldn't
green-light it, and it has the added curiosity of being true.
ACT I. CLOSE-UP: The face of our hero, Kurt Warner, barking
quarterback signals at Northern Iowa. PULL BACK TO REVEAL: This
isn't a college football game. This is a game of snow football
with friends. It's more action than he usually sees. DISSOLVE TO:
Calendar pages flipping as Warner sits for most of four years,
one as a redshirt and three as backup to a guy named Jay Johnson.
Even Johnson sidles up to him and says, "You ought to be playing,
not me." But does Warner complain? Please.
He's a good egg, this Warner. He meets a woman at a bar who's not
only four years older than he is but also divorced with two kids,
one of them legally blind and brain-damaged from being
accidentally dropped on his head as a baby. Most college jocks
meet a woman like that and exit through the men's room window.
What does Warner do? Eventually marries her and adopts the kids.
After finally getting a chance to start as a fifth-year senior,
kicking butt and being named Gateway Conference Offensive Player
of the Year, Warner isn't even picked in the NFL draft. He gets a
rejection letter from the Canadian Football League. He gets cut
so fast at the Green Bay Packers' training camp that coach Mike
Holmgren doesn't find out he's gone until two days later.
ACT II. CLOSE-UP: Warner's face, barking signals. PULL BACK TO
REVEAL: This isn't a football field. It's the frozen vegetable
aisle at the Hy-Vee supermarket in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where
Warner is stocking shelves, $5.50 an hour. He drops back into the
dog-food section and fires a Nerf spiral that skirts the hanging
holiday banners and lands right in the arms of his receiver in
specialty foods. His workmates go wild. Warner grins, but then
catches himself. When you're working the graveyard shift, trying
to keep your NFL dreams alive by day, smiles don't stick.
And, let's face it, Warner is a terrible stocker. Pampers are
O.K., but his hands are much too huge for the little stuff. He's
trying to stack a bunch of tiny jars of mushrooms when they come
crashing down on him, glass shattering. One jerk hollers,
sarcastically, "And Warner fumbles!" Does Warner punch him?
(One year later) CLOSE-UP: Warner's face, barking signals. PULL
BACK TO REVEAL: This isn't the NFL. This is Arena football--eight
players a side, indoors, 50-yard fields and everybody's making
just slightly more than the guy who asks, "You want fries with
that?" Still, Warner won't quit.
(Three years later) CLOSE-UP: Warner's face, barking signals.
PULL BACK TO REVEAL: This isn't the NFL. It's the Amsterdam
Admirals of NFL Europe, whose fans roar for every punt and yawn
at touchdown bombs. CUT TO: Postgame. Warner sticks his $1,200
game check in an envelope bound for his family back home. Does he
lose faith? Please.
ACT III. The St. Louis Rams keep Warner on the team, but not so
as you can tell. He appears in only one game the entire 1998
season. St. Louis leaves Warner unprotected in the expansion
draft. The Cleveland Browns don't want him either. Before the
'99 season the Rams sign golden boy free agent Trent Green for
$16.5 million. Warner gets $250,000, parking meter money in this
league. Still, not a peep from Warner. Green plays very well in
the first preseason game. But just as all seems lost for Warner,
Green is hurt.
CLOSE-UP: Warner's face, barking signals. PULL BACK TO REVEAL:
He's not only in the NFL but also eating its defenses for lunch,
throwing 41 touchdown passes (third-most ever), taking the Rams
to the best record in the NFC (13-3) and running away with the
NFL MVP vote. When presented with that award, he chokes up. Has
there ever been a more grateful winner? Please.
EPILOGUE. A carton arrives at Warner's house. He cuts it open to
find boxes of Kurt Warner's Crunch Time cereal. His picture is on
the front of the boxes. He smiles. This time, the smile sticks.
Always did like cereal. Easy to stock.
FADE TO BLACK.
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA
Warner drops back into the dog-food section and fires a Nerf
spiral that lands in the arms of his receiver in specialty foods.