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Ram Shackled
Rick Reilly
December 08, 2003
Sports Stinks. Sports can be cruder than a bald man's winning free blow-dries for life. Sports will lift you up in front of the whole assembly, crown you king and then give you a wedgie.
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December 08, 2003

Ram Shackled

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Sports Stinks. Sports can be cruder than a bald man's winning free blow-dries for life. Sports will lift you up in front of the whole assembly, crown you king and then give you a wedgie.

Take the case of Kurt Warner.

Two years ago nobody in sports sizzled more than the St. Louis Rams' quarterback. He was Elvis in a chin strap. Handsome, talented, virtuous and heroic, he was the sports story of the year. Tell us again, Kurt, how you worked your way up from a grocery stocker's job to king of the NFL.

He could throw a spiral through a cuff-link hole. He won two MVPs. He won a Super Bowl, and two years later he nearly won another. He remains the highest-rated career passer in NFL history. He hung with Leno and Letterman. He wrote a book. He got his own segments on two TV shows in St. Louis. Destiny kissed him at every turn.

And then, for no damn reason, Destiny decided to ralph all over him.

After two years of hand and shoulder injuries, plus his third concussion, he appears to have literally lost his grip. In the season-opening loss to the New York Giants he fumbled six times and lost his eighth straight start. He hasn't played since. The spirals that came off his hand like spun gold two years ago suddenly seemed to come off like frozen hams.

Now he's the backup to Marc Bulger. Now people are wondering if his career is deader than Menudo's. "I just think he got hit too much," says one NFL general manager. "He doesn't look comfortable in the pocket anymore."

He spends his weekdays as the world's only $9-million-a-year scout teamer. After Rams games he dresses quickly so he can get out of the way of the gaggle of reporters wanting to talk to Bulger. He goes home and refuses to watch other teams' games. "If I do, I sit there and think, I could be playing for them," he grumbles.

Once the cool couple in the NFL, Kurt and his wife, Brenda, are getting scratched like instant lottery cards. After Brenda, a former Marine cryptologist, started phoning in to a talk-radio show to defend her husband, she was called Yoko Warner.

"For three years," Kurt says, "everybody wanted my wife to come here, come there, come speak to their groups. Everybody wanted the inside scoop on the Warners. Now, there's this: 'Well, he's not playing well, what do we need her for?' Now they talk about her looks, her hairstyles, what she wore to the Super Bowl—a blue sweater with feathers on it. I mean, what difference does it make?"

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