The League

David Aldridge
Sports Reporter

David Aldridge

A nationally recognized sports journalist.

If Namath Then Warner


I've got to admit, when the notion of Kurt Warner being a Hall of Famer was brought up earlier in the season, I was not moved. The criteria that I look at when asking if someone is HOF worthy in their sport usually breaks down to these: did they dominate the era in which they played? Did they change the way we look at their position? Did they play long enough to have lasting impact during their era? Because part of being great is showing up every week/night/fifth day, if you're a starting pitcher.

Warner had most of those: the Rams' GSOT (can't spell it out for fear of Ringling Bros. lawyers slapping me with trademark infringement) clearly dominated its era, just as the 49ers' offense was King of the 80s, and Warner was the key to the car. And he had the multiple league MVP awards and the Super Bowl victory. To me, that made him Joe Namath, and Namath is in. But I wasn't sure Namath deserved to be in, the New York hype notwithstanding.

Look at the numbers. Namath's career record: 63-63-4.

He won Super Bowl III in his fourth season in the AFL. The next season, the Jets were 10-4. And they never had a winning season again with Namath as the starting quarterback. Namath missed most of three post-Super Bowl seasons with the Jets because of injuries the nine seasons that followed, Namath's teams had winning records just three times, and in the four post-SB years when he started a good chunk of games, he was 7-6, 7-7, 3-10 and 1-7 for New York. He had one standout season for the Jets after the Super Bowl -- 1972, when he led the post-merger NFL in passing yards, touchdowns, yards per game and yards per pass.

In short, Namath is in Canton because of one game -- Super Bowl III. And, given the historical impact of that game, maybe that was enough. I needed convincing, though -- as I did with Warner.

Just like Namath, Warner's career basically comes down to a few seasons; in Warner's case, three -- 1999 through 2001, when he made all three of his Pro Bowls, won his two league MVPs ('99 and '01) and won his Super Bowl ('99). After that came six seasons of injuries, mediocre records and not a sniff of postseason success. So, was Warner's one championship and 36 months of dominant football enough to stamp his ticket? I was skeptical, just as I was about guys like Terrell Davis. Longevity has its place with me.

But, I have to admit, if the Cardinals pull the upset in Tampa, that may be enough for me. It would be hard to argue that a guy with two pelts from two different teams -- and who got the second at 37 -- shouldn't get in. Almost all of the other quarterbacks with two or more Supers as starters are in or will be in: Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady. (The only one who isn't: Jim Plunkett.) If Warner gets a second ring, you'd have to argue that he's the equal of at least Griese, who spent an awful lot of time handing off to Csonka, Morris and Kiick.

But here's a question for you.

If Roethlisberger wins a second title, and does little in his career afterward, does he get in?

By David Aldridge  |  January 21, 2009; 9:50 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , David Aldridge Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I guess my biggest comment would be that David Aldridge can spell N-A-M-A-T-H and Post web editors cannot.

Posted by: BabeLaufenberg | January 21, 2009 12:15 PM

Namath is in the hall of fame not just because of the Super Bowl, but because of the aesthetics of his game. Have you watched images of a healthy Namath drop back and throw a ball 30-40 yards? John Madden, who coached the Raiders against the Jets for a few years, said "He had the best-looking drop, the best looking release, and the best-looking pass that I have ever seen." Bill Walsh says similar things about watching Namath on film as a model of form. Also, some of his numbers were eye-popping in his moment. Yes, he tossed a lot of picks, but that was fairly ordinary in that era. But his 4007 passing yards in the 1967 season set a record that lasted for over a decade.

Posted by: johann_cat | January 22, 2009 9:28 AM

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