Kurt Warner to be honored Sept. 8

Updated: June 18, 2014, 9:55 PM ET
By Josh Weinfuss | ESPN.com

TEMPE, Ariz. - Kurt Warner rewarded the Arizona Cardinals for reviving his career with a trip to Super Bowl XLIII and now the team is returning the favor.

Warner will be inducted into the Cardinals' Ring of Honor at University of Phoenix Stadium at halftime of Arizona's "Monday Night Football" game against San Diego on Sept. 8. He's the 14th former Cardinal to receive the honor and the first since Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams was added to the Ring of Honor in 2008.

"I think one of the things that I always think about was how the Cardinals gave me an opportunity when not many teams out there were going to give me an opportunity," Warner said. "And the one thing that I always say to myself is I want to make sure that when a team invests in me that they get their investment's worth.

"I'm honored to think that now, going into the Ring of Honor, that hopefully that shows that you were happy with your investment."

With Warner leading the offense from 2007-2009, Arizona experienced its most successful three-year span since the early 1980s and late 1970s. But his stay in the desert wasn't also so successful.

Warner went 3-12 as a starter in his first two seasons with the Cardinals, starting just five games in 2006 as the team opted for rookie quarterback Matt Leinart for the majority of the season. Looking back Wednesday, Warner said he contemplated retirement after being replaced by Leinart.

"You always believe at this level that the best player is going to play and that's all going to work itself out," Warner said. "But it doesn't work that way sometimes. We all know draft picks and money and all those different dynamics play into it. There was a moment where I was frustrated thinking if I don't play here, I'm not sure I'm going to get another chance anyways."

When Ken Whisenhunt replaced Dennis Green in 2007, Warner's revival began.

"That was huge for me. I think he came in with an open mind or at least developed an open mind to say we're going to put the best player on the football field and that rejuvenated me and gave me new life that I felt if I was the best guy I could be out there playing again.

"And I felt like I still had something to prove but more importantly something to give."

In 2008, Warner led Arizona to the franchise's long Super Bowl, XLIII, which the Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-23. He played one more season, leading Arizona went 10-6 and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs, before retiring because he said he couldn't give enough mentally to keep the team where it was.

Warner left the Cardinals among the franchise leaders in nearly every passing category.

"When I knew I wasn't going back to New York, the goal was to find a place to start because I felt I could be productive and I could help a team win," Warner said. "As I said, there weren't many teams that were willing to give me that opportunity. The Cardinals were one that were willing to and when I jumped on that opportunity, I felt like it was another awesome spot to go because a lot of people looked at the Cardinals' organization and said they'll never get to this point. Everybody was looking at me and saying well he's never getting back to that point.

"I thought it would be a great marriage to be able to come together and let's try to do something that nobody expects us to do in a couple different ways."

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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