The scary injury to teammate Anquan Boldin, combined with other factors, has led him to give more serious consideration to leaving the game.
"I'm definitely considering retirement more than I ever have before," the 37-year-old quarterback said Monday, "but that doesn't mean it's more than 50 percent or anything like that. I'm just going to consider it."
The comments came after Yahoo.com reported that Warner text messaged his wife Brenda shortly after Boldin's injury on Sept. 28 against the New York Jets, saying he'd decided it was time to retire. She said he meant immediately, but Warner said that wasn't the case.
"There's no question that I texted her and said that I was contemplating and thinking about it because she's wanted me to retire for a couple of years now," Warner said. ". . . It wasn't I was going to retire last week. It was more I'm just really trying to keep this thing in perspective moving forward."
Warner has acknowledged the fierce helmet-to-helmet hit on Boldin as the receiver went up for Warner's pass in the waning seconds of Arizona's 56-35 loss to the Jets was the worst he had seen in his 12 NFL seasons. After lying on the ground for many minutes, Boldin was taken off the field on a stretcher. He remains sidelined with a fractured sinus.
Warner has taken countless hard hits in his rags-to-riches pro career that includes MVP awards in the regular season and Super Bowl, as well as a Super Bowl championship. He doesn't want to be around to take one too many.
"It's a great game and it's done great things for me and my family," Warner said, "but the bottom line is when I'm done I want to be able to walk away and be everything I need to be for my family."
He listed other factors that could lead to his retirement, including the burden of having to live up to expectations and worry about being benched when he doesn't perform.
"When I'm out there between the lines, not one of those things cross my mind," Warner said. "It's just over the five or six days leading up to that. ... Week in and week out, that can weigh heavy on you."
He noted that over the last few years, he's had to be concerned about losing his job to a younger quarterback: Marc Bulger in St. Louis, Eli Manning with the New York Giants and now Matt Leinart in Arizona.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt chose Warner over Leinart as the starter this season. But Warner is in the final year of his contract and Whisenhunt has repeatedly said Leinart is the franchise's quarterback of the future.
Even if Warner takes the team to the playoffs, the Cardinals may decide it's time to turn things over to Leinart.
"If I'm going to play, I want to play here," Warner said. "If there was no contract done, then I think it would lend myself to even taking a bigger look at it [retirement] instead of moving everything and trying to re-establish myself."
Warner had an awful outing against the Jets, throwing three interceptions and fumbling the ball away three times. But he responded Sunday with a strong performance in Arizona's 41-17 home victory over the Buffalo Bills, completing 33 of 42 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions or lost fumbles.
Afterward, Warner said, "My wife said 'You're never going to retire now, are you?'
"Games like that make you want to play forever."