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Rick Reilly
January 17, 2000
Read a good movie lately? Well, get a box of Kleenex, your best date and some Orville Redenbacher's, and try this one.
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January 17, 2000

Now Playing To Boffo Reviews

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Read a good movie lately? Well, get a box of Kleenex, your best date and some Orville Redenbacher's, and try this one.

The Kurt Warner Story is the feel-good hit of the season, with a screenplay so implausibly happy that even Disney wouldn't green-light it, and it has the added curiosity of being true.

ACT I. CLOSE-UP: The face of our hero, Kurt Warner, barking quarterback signals at Northern Iowa. PULL BACK TO REVEAL: This isn't a college football game. This is a game of snow football with friends. It's more action than he usually sees. DISSOLVE TO: Calendar pages flipping as Warner sits for most of four years, one as a redshirt and three as backup to a guy named Jay Johnson. Even Johnson sidles up to him and says, "You ought to be playing, not me." But does Warner complain? Please.

He's a good egg, this Warner. He meets a woman at a bar who's not only four years older than he is but also divorced with two kids, one of them legally blind and brain-damaged from being accidentally dropped on his head as a baby. Most college jocks meet a woman like that and exit through the men's room window. What does Warner do? Eventually marries her and adopts the kids.

After finally getting a chance to start as a fifth-year senior, kicking butt and being named Gateway Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Warner isn't even picked in the NFL draft. He gets a rejection letter from the Canadian Football League. He gets cut so fast at the Green Bay Packers' training camp that coach Mike Holmgren doesn't find out he's gone until two days later.

ACT II. CLOSE-UP: Warner's face, barking signals. PULL BACK TO REVEAL: This isn't a football field. It's the frozen vegetable aisle at the Hy-Vee supermarket in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where Warner is stocking shelves, $5.50 an hour. He drops back into the dog-food section and fires a Nerf spiral that skirts the hanging holiday banners and lands right in the arms of his receiver in specialty foods. His workmates go wild. Warner grins, but then catches himself. When you're working the graveyard shift, trying to keep your NFL dreams alive by day, smiles don't stick.

And, let's face it, Warner is a terrible stocker. Pampers are O.K., but his hands are much too huge for the little stuff. He's trying to stack a bunch of tiny jars of mushrooms when they come crashing down on him, glass shattering. One jerk hollers, sarcastically, "And Warner fumbles!" Does Warner punch him? Please.

(One year later) CLOSE-UP: Warner's face, barking signals. PULL BACK TO REVEAL: This isn't the NFL. This is Arena football—eight players a side, indoors, 50-yard fields and everybody's making just slightly more than the guy who asks, "You want fries with that?" Still, Warner won't quit.

(Three years later) CLOSE-UP: Warner's face, barking signals. PULL BACK TO REVEAL: This isn't the NFL. It's the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe, whose fans roar for every punt and yawn at touchdown bombs. CUT TO: Postgame. Warner sticks his $1,200 game check in an envelope bound for his family back home. Does he lose faith? Please.

ACT III. The St. Louis Rams keep Warner on the team, but not so as you can tell. He appears in only one game the entire 1998 season. St. Louis leaves Warner unprotected in the expansion draft. The Cleveland Browns don't want him either. Before the '99 season the Rams sign golden boy free agent Trent Green for $16.5 million. Warner gets $250,000, parking meter money in this league. Still, not a peep from Warner. Green plays very well in the first preseason game. But just as all seems lost for Warner, Green is hurt.

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