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The Kurt Warner effect felt in AZ & STL

Tuesday night, retired NFL quarterback Kurt Warner was eliminated from this season’s edition of “Dancing with the Stars.”  Warner and dancing partner Anna Trebunskaya were sent home as the show trimmed its list of competitors to a final four.  While this is considered big news in the reality TV world, within the sphere of pro football, it’s interesting to note the lack of news that emanates from a team after Warner moves on from their roster.

The 2010 version of the Arizona Cardinals are a prime example of this phenomenon. After dismissing Warner’s long planned replacement, former USC Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, the Cards sit at  3-5 (entering Sunday’s game vs. Seattle) under the QB leadership of Derek Anderson and rookie Max Hall.  In only a half a season, the team appears to have moved back to their all too familiar perch as an NFL also-ran. The loss of WR Anquan Boldin was also a major blow to the team, but one has to think that the performances of All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald and WR Steve Breaston would be dramatically enhanced if Warner was still the man throwing them the football. Warner decided to walk away from the $11.5 million he would have earned from Arizona this year

To put Warner’s impact on the Cardinals in perspective, one only has to consider the fact that he is responsible for 66 percent of the team’s playoff victories since their last NFL Title in 1947. With Warner at the helm, the Cards won four of their six total playoff victories since the ’47 crown, which took place when they were the Chicago Cardinals.

For years and years, the idea of the Cardinals appearing in the Super Bowl was as unlikely of a scenario as say the St. Louis Rams representing the NFC in the Big Game.  Amazingly, Warner was the driving force behind both these accomplishments taking place. Despite going 1-2 in Super Bowl’s, Warner owns the three highest single game passing marks in the game’s history. He also owns the distinction of transforming the culture of two very unsuccessful teams, then watching them revert back to their old ways after he left town.

The Cardinals had averaged six wins per season, since their relocation to Phoenix in 1988.

In the years prior to Warner becoming the starting QB, the Rams posted nine consecutive losing seasons, in both Anaheim and St. Louis. Warner’s magic touch involved a quick turnaround in both places.

Warner certainly had his struggles towards the end of his St. Louis tenure and in his one season with the New York Giants. But, when considering Warner’s ability to leave a franchise in far better shape than when he arrived, its seems clear that his past teams are not always able to immediately replace all that Warner brought to the table.

The Rams have finally found their way back to respectability after the drafting of Oklahoma Sooner QB Sam Bradford, but it took five non playoff seasons to get to this point.  Former Rams QB Marc Bulger never became the long term answer the team had hoped for.

In Arizona, who knows what the future holds? One thing is certain; priority number one is finding a QB that will stabilize the team to the point where the Warner effect comes to a conclusion. It finally happened in St. Louis. The Cards hope it does not take anywhere near as long in Arizona.

Below is a piece of video showing the Warner family leaving the Cardinals complex on the day of his retirement announcement. This appears to be the point in time where everything changed back to how it used to be in the desert.

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Jon Rapoport has spent his career working on all sides of the media and sports industry. He began his career at ESPN in studio production at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. While there, he won an Emmy for his contribution to "SportsCenter." Following his tenure at ESPN, Jon relocated to Los Angeles, joining the staff of the “Best Damn Sports Show” on FOX Sports Net.

Upon leaving the show, Jon worked in Web site and sports radio show development/production, with Major League Baseball in media operation logistics for the World Baseball Classic and on behalf of Los Angeles’ effort to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics back to Southern California. Jon currently writes a political blog for the Los Angeles edition of Examiner.com.

Born and raised in Plymouth, Minnesota (just outside of Minneapolis), Jon is an avid sports fan, particularly for his beloved Minnesota teams. Jon graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his BA in communication and interned for ABC’s “Good Morning America” in New York City and Washington D.C. He is married and resides in Los Angeles.  

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