Interview: Kurt Warner – American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story

Super Bowl winner, NFL MVP, football analyst, and father Kurt Warner sat down to talk about his move American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story. We discussed how he kept is faith, working through hardships, and when he knew he belonged in the NFL.

That was a big moment for me and a big learning experience…never again will I sit on the sidelines. I’ll never be afraid to fail again.

American Underdog is a film about faith. How did you keep your faith throughout all of this?

Kurt Warner: The biggest thing was believing and understanding who I was. So often we get lost in our circumstances and we allow our circumstance to define who we are or how other people see us. I always had faith in who I was and belief in who I was. When a lot of people look at my career they focus on me sitting on the bench for years or when I got cut and worked at a grocery store. Then out of nowhere [I] won a Super Bowl. When I look at my career, I sat on the bench for four years and I played one year in college, but I won Player of the Year in our conference. When I played Arena Football we went to the championship twice. When I played between the lines and had a ball in my hand, I was always successful.  Nobody could point at me and say I couldn’t do it because there was no evidence, in my mind, that I couldn’t be successful. I just needed an opportunity.

There’s a scene in the film where you have a conversation with Mike Martz and he’s testing you. You stand up for yourself and say you’re ready. That’s interesting compared to your time in Green Bay when you were in and out very quickly. That must’ve been hard.

KW: It’s not easy. We live in a society now where we hear and see everything. People are constantly telling you what you can and can’t be. You can be great in your field and go on social media and find a million people that think you’re awful. It’s the culture we live in and it’s a constant battle. Not everyone is going to see us for as we truly are or as we see ourselves. Are you going to allow those things to define you? You mentioned my time in Green Bay – I got there and chose not to go in as QB. I didn’t want to screw this opportunity up so I didn’t go in. That situation ultimately leads to them releasing me. If I’m afraid to go in at practice, how could they ever put me in a game and trust me with what they’re doing. That was a big moment for me and a big learning experience…never again will I sit on the sidelines. I’ll never be afraid to fail again.

Through your journey did you ever have a moment that you wanted to quit?

KW: Want is the wrong word [laughs]. I never wanted to quit but I thought about quitting. The worst was probably when I was in college. You have this dream of playing professional football and here I am sitting on the bench for four years. I wrestled with ideas like life is unfair and why am I not playing. The big one is how is my dream supposed to come to life if I’m not even playing in college. It got really frustrating. There were some moments along the way when you’re 26 or 27 when the people that love and support you start looking at you like, “Do you really think this is still going to happen?” As you do get older, you start thinking about how many teams are willing to give a 27 year old rookie quarterback a chance. How long do you hold on? How long do you continue to go on? I thought I could make it but I didn’t know. I just needed the opportunity to show people.

What moment did you realize you belonged in the NFL?

KW: Ironically enough it was when I went to Green Bay. Even though I got cut after five weeks, that quarterback group was good. Brett Favre is one of the greatest to ever do it, Mark Brunnell was a Pro Bowl quarterback, and Ty Deitmer won the Heisman. Those are the three guys I was in camp with. That was the real moment I knew I could do it because I was right there with those guys and it gave me confidence. I knew I could play at that level. There can be times you fail in the moment and you learn in those moments and move forward. We learn from it.