DID SUPER BOWL LOSS DOOM WARNER’S HALL BID?
We’re gradually working through the four-hour Super Bowl edition of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, and we’ve tripped across an intriguing debate regarding the question of whether Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner would qualify for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame with a win on Sunday -- and whether he’d be eligible even if the Cardinals lost the game. (As they did, to the extent that any of you have been comatose since Saturday.) We’ve noticed that, for the most part, former players tend to support the candidacies of other former players, with the exception of Michael Irvin. So it wasn’t surprising to hear Ron Jaworski kick off the discussion by arguing that Warner already has done enough to merit enshrinement. “Most of all, Kurt Warner shows up in big games,” Jaworski said. (And maybe now Warner will “show up” for the Maxwell Club’s annual dinner.) Trent Dilfer pointed out that Warner has taken previously bad teams in St. Louis and Arizona to the Super Bowl. Steve Young argued that the definition of Warner’s career has changed in the past month, no longer being regarded as a journeyman who had a single flash of brilliance. Young threw it to Tom Jackson, assuming that Jackson would agree. But Jackson said that Warner needs to win the Super Bowl to get in. Keyshawn Johnson called Warner’s situation a “Tom Brady story,” and explained that, if Brady already has done enough to be a Hall of Famer, Warner has as well. Mike Ditka chimed in by pointing to Warner’s off-field exploits, which as we know from dealing with guys like O.J. Simpson, the original L.T., and the aforementioned Michael Irvin aren’t supposed to matter. Keyshawn agreed: “I think it’s important to package everything up together. You gotta look at the whole package.” The most compelling remarks came from Cris Carter, who had been passed over for enshrinement less than 24 hours earlier. “Look, I think it’s a difficult spot for me,” Carter said. “I agree with all you guys to a certain degree but I’ve been involved in the Hall of Fame process for the last two years and I gotta tell y’all,what I thought was a Hall of Famer . . . I don’t know no more. “Because it used to be consistency, dominate the game, and dominate the game. So, well, sometimes they change it.” Jackson then pointed to Warner’s “missing years,” and said that they need to be balanced out by winning the Super Bowl. Carter agreed that Kurt Warner has a Hall of Fame story, but that Carter doesn’t know whether they’ll let him in Canton. As we’ve previously pointed out, the thinking in some voting circles is that, regardless of whether his team won or lost on Sunday, Warner would need to put together a couple of additional solid seasons, and ideally to finish in the top twenty in passing yards (he needs 5,000 more) and passing touchdowns (he needs 50). So, in our view, Warner has yet to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame. But he’s close, and he can get there with two more solid seasons. Another Super Bowl win wouldn’t hurt, either.