There are two favorites for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. One is running back LaDainian Tomlinson, and the other is quarterback Kurt Warner.
Tomlinson‘s numbers speak for themselves. But so do Warner‘s, except … well, except for that one flaw that bothers voters: The hole in the middle of his career where he was less than Hall-of-Fame worthy.
Supporters argue that should not make a difference because of what Warner did at the end of his career – namely, resurrect a doormat for the second time in his career. But there has to be more, and Hall-of-Fame defensive back Aeneas Williams insists there is.
In fact, on this week‘s Talk of Fame Network broadcast, Williams said he knew the moment he joined Warner with the St. Louis Rams there was something extraordinary about him.
“Where do I start?” said Williams. “If we just talk about the football field, I‘ve had the unique challenge or opportunity to play with him in St. Louis, but also to see what he was able to do going over to my former team, the Arizona Cardinals.
“I can tell you (that) when I first was traded to the St. Louis Rams, in practice I realized immediately he was different from a lot of quarterbacks that I had experienced because plays that I would‘ve normally made in practice – (like) certain balls that I thought are shoulder placement.
“With quarterbacks being able to read the shoulder placement, whether the quarterback‘s shoulders were turned toward the sky, I could tell whether they were throwing the ball to a deep corner or they‘re going to throw it in a flat in a shorter distance. (But) I was not able to determine where Kurt was throwing the ball.
“So, with Kurt‘s ability to put the ball in place where receivers had the opportunity to have the opportunity to have YAC yards (yards after the catch), Kurt was one of the best.
To illustrate his point, Williams recalled a 2000 preseason game where Warner‘s teammate, Isaac Bruce – also a Hall-of-Fame finalist – ran a deep comeback route, slipped and fell to the ground ... and was hit in the numbers by a perfectly thrown Warner pass.
“So when I think about the accuracy of Kurt Warner,” said Williams, “and his ability to get the ball out in a timely fashion, with the precision to give his receiver -- as well Marshall (Faulk) and his tight end -- the ability not to take or absorb strong hits … but also have the ability to run after the catch … those are some of the characteristics of some of the great quarterbacks I played with.
“From a defensive perspective, I knew no matter what the situation was, no matter how far we were down in a game, if we, as a defense, were able to get the ball to the offense and Kurt had an opportunity … along with that offense … we would legitimately win a game.”