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Kurt Warner: The Face of AF1?

by Randy Snow

Originally posted on ArenaFan.com, Thursday, February 11, 2010


During a press conference on January 29, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner announced his retirement from the NFL. He talked about the many career options available to him now that his playing days are behind him. 

May I suggest one more option, Kurt? Come back to Arena Football. I don’t mean as a player, although I’m sure you could still be a dominating player if you wanted to. No, I’m talking about coming back as a team owner, a coach, a broadcaster or simply as a spokesman for the new league. 

We all know Warner’s rags-to-riches story about how he was bagging groceries in Des Moines, Iowa when he was “discovered” by John Gregory, the head coach of the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League. Warner led the Barnstormers to two consecutive AFL title games in 1996 and 1997 (losing both times) and then he signed with the St. Louis Rams of the NFL. He led the Rams to two Super Bowls (winning one) and then led the Arizona Cardinals to another in 2009.


He is, without a doubt, the most famous and recognizable player ever to come out of the AFL. If the AF1 is smart, they will do whatever it takes to try and get Warner back into the fold in some capacity.

The Arena Football League folded after the 2008 season, but its developmental league, arenafootball2, continued to play in 2009. Now it is 2010. The AFL and af2 are both gone and in their place is Arena Football One, a hybrid of teams from both leagues determined to keep the brand of Arena Football alive. The Iowa Barnstormers are one of those teams and Warner’s former AFL coach, John Gregory, is still in Des Moines coaching the Barnstormers.

During the last few years of the AFL, there were a number of famous people involved with the league. But where are all of the high profile celebrity owners now? Where is Jon Bon Jovi? John Elway? Tim McGraw? Ron Jaworski? They seem to have moved on to other interests once the limelight faded. There was a time when all anyone talked about were the owners. “This week, John Elway’s Colorado Crush will take on Jon Bon Jovi’s Philadelphia Soul.” 

Only Mike Ditka has returned so far to support Arena Football. He has once again joined the ownership group of the Chicago Rush. He is not afraid to say that he believes in the sport and the athletes who play the game, which is how it should be. The players and coaches are the ones who should be getting all the attention, not the owners. 


It’s time to bring Arena Football back to the fans and away from the celebrity driven owners who tried to stand above the sport and attempted to turn the AFL into NFL Junior. True fans have always appreciated the fact that Arena Football was different from the NFL. That is what drew them to the game in the first place. 

Fans who have always loved Arena Football will support the new league. But Warner’s stamp of approval would greatly enhance the league’s status and give it a jump start on bringing new fans on board right away. Consider the AF1 a “re-boot” of Arena Football; same game, same fan enthusiasm, same teams, new name.

Those who feel that the AF1 is something below the level of the AFL and those who see it as a step above the af2 will both applaud Warner’s connection to the new league. He is a celebrity today because of his start in Arena Football.


So AF1 should bring back Kurt Warner… and Touchdown Eddie Brown… and Barry Wagner… and many others who helped build Arena Football from the ground up. Thankfully, some fixtures of the game will be part of the AF1; Tim Marcum, Mike Hohensee and Bob McMillan to name a few. Their love of the game is genuine. To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what Arena Football can do for you, ask what you can do for Arena Football.”

So Kurt, if you are reading this, consider coming back to your roots, back to the place where football was fun and where fans could actually afford to take the whole family to a game. Come back to Arena Football!



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