Kurt Warner - Iowa Roots
Warner, born in Burlington, Iowa, lettered in football, basketball, and baseball at Cedar Rapids Regis High School. He was a Des Moines Register all-state selection as a senior. At the University of Northern Iowa, where he graduated with a degree in communications, Warner didn't start until his senior season, 1993, when he was Gateway Conference offensive player of the year and led the conference in total offense and passing efficiency.
Green Bay drafted Warner in 1994, but cut him during training camp. Warner then made a living at a Hy-Vee supermarket in Cedar Rapids, stocking shelves. He and his wife, Brenda, needed food stamps. Tragedy also struck when a tornado killed Brenda's parents at their home in Arkansas in 1996. "There were times I remembered praying that no matter what I had to do, just praying that the Lord would give me a job that I could take care of my family," Warner said years later. "I didn't care if I had to work till I was 90."
"We loved each other and he loved the kids, so our dates really involved him playing with the kids," Brenda Warner said. "So it was a cheap date."
Warner, meanwhile, persevered in football. He played for the Iowa Barnstormers for the Arena Football League from 1995 to 1997, twice leading the team to the championship game, the Arena Bowl, and passing for 10,164 yards and 183 touchdowns in three seasons. (Arena football is an indoor version of the game played on a shorter field). The Rams signed Warner in December 1997 and optioned him to the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. In the spring/summer 1998 season, Warner started all ten Admirals games and led the league in passing yards, completions and touchdowns.
Warner, after the NFL Europe season ended in summer 1998, was the Rams' inactive third quarterback for fourteen of their first sixteen games that fall. He finally saw action in the team's final game, against the San Francisco 49ers, completing four of eleven passes for thirty-nine yards.