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Professional football player Kurt Warner drove a high-powered St. Louis Rams offense to a Super Bowl victory, and collected MVP honors along the way.
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Brenda and Kurt quickly grew close, and when they married in 1997, Warner legally adopted his wife's children. Since then, the couple has gone on to have five additional kids, including twin girls born in December 2005.
Despite his senior season success, Warner's dream of playing in the NFL seemed unlikely to be realized following his graduation in 1994. He went undrafted, and while the Green Bay Packers invited him to training camp,
the team cut him just five weeks after the signing.
Still, Warner held on to his dream. He took a job in Cedar Falls stocking supermarket shelves for $5.50 an hour, trained during the day at his old college, and told anyone who would listen that he'd be an NFL quarterback some day.
In 1995, Warner was asked to play for the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League. There, his accurate and strong arm set a host of league passing records and eventually caught the attention of the Rams, a struggling NFL franchise that sent him overseas to play in the NFL's European league in the spring of 1998.
Again, Warner turned in more eye-popping numbers, leading the league in passing yardage and touchdowns. The performance was good enough to help him land the third-string job for the Rams that autumn, a season in which the club turned in a 4-12 record.
Everything changed the following season when, in late August, the team's starting quarterback went down with a season-ending knee injury. In his place, the Rams turned to Warner, who'd played well enough in camp to earn the backup position.
Just as he did in college, Warner came up big, throwing 14 touchdowns in his four games, two more than the team had passed during the entire 1998 season. Football talking heads and fans were enthralled and amazed not only at the quarterback's rise, but also by how the player's talent could be overlooked by so many scouts and coaches.
"There's no way to quantify Warner's commanding pocket presence, his ability to release the ball just before the rush arrives or the amazing array of passes he can throw with chilling accuracy," wrote Sports Illustrated.
Earning a paltry, by NFL standards, $250,000, the league minimum for a second-year player, Warner and the league's highest powered offense, dubbed "The Greatest Show on Turf", sprinted to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl win in which the quarterback threw for a record 414 yards and was the game's MVP.
"People think this season is the first time I touched a football; they don't realize I've been doing this for years, just not on this level, because I never got the chance," Warner told reporters. "Sure, I had my tough times, but you don't sit there and say, 'Wow, I was stocking groceries five years ago, and look at me now.' You don't think about it, and when you do achieve something, you know luck has nothing to do with it."
Over the next several seasons, Warner, who signed a four-year contract in 2000 for more than $46 million, proved his worth, throwing for more big yardage and touchdowns. He then led the Rams to a second Super Bowl appearance two years later, in which Warner's heavily favored club lost to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
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