EARTH CITY, Mo. -- On Wednesday afternoon, the Arizona Cardinals announced that quarterback Kurt Warner's name will be added to the team's Ring of Honor at halftime of the team's Sept. 8 game against San Diego. Warner will be the 14th player to receive the honor for the Cardinals, a franchise that, of course, once made its home in St. Louis.
Though Warner retired as a Cardinal, the St. Louis Rams should follow suit and do something similar for the quarterback who made his name in the NFL as the trigger man for the most successful era in the organization's history.
Like the Cardinals, there is no better time for the Rams to make the move than this season.
This year is the 15th anniversary of the Warner-led Rams team that surged to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. By now, most of the world knows Warner's rags to riches story from former grocery bagger to league MVP. But it's not just Warner's story that makes him worthy of receiving a similar honor with the Rams, be it in their version of a Ring of Fame or even going the step further to retire his No. 13 jersey.
Warner gave St. Louis football fans a reason to love the game, a reason to believe that just about anything could happen on a football field. His story is absolutely integral in any re-telling of the team's history.
I've been told the Rams plan to celebrate the 15th anniversary of that 1999 team this year and hope to have Warner back in town to be feted as part of the group, but as of now there aren't any apparent plans for anything Warner-specific. The quarterback has made his way back to St. Louis the past two seasons for the team's "Thursday Night Football" appearances.
Asked Wednesday about where his loyalties lie between his time in Arizona and his time in St. Louis, Warner again emphasized that it's a battle that need not take place.
"People are always asking me 'well if you were going to go in the Hall of Fame would you be a Cardinal or would you be a Ram?'" Warner said. "My only answer is I wouldn’t be going in the Hall of Fame, if I get in, without both parts. Both parts to me are equally as important, equally special. And probably the thing I'm most proud of in my career was being able to help two organizations go someplace that they’d never been before. Not many people get that opportunity to do it with one.
"To have the chance to do it with two, that to me was fun. To me, I take great pride in that and being a part of that."
It's only natural for both fan bases to want to claim Warner as their own and, frankly, both can make good arguments for it. But as Warner points out, the part of his story that makes it complete is that he was able to elevate two franchises to the game's biggest stage.
More to the point, the question of whether Warner would go into the Hall of Fame as a Cardinal or Ram doesn't matter. The NFL isn't like Major League Baseball where a player can be inducted wearing the hat (or in this case helmet) of the team he chooses.
Warner's accomplishments in St. Louis are certainly every bit as deserving of being honored as what he did in Arizona. He led the Rams to a pair of Super Bowls, including a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. He won two league MVPs. He was the leader for one of the most dangerous and entertaining offenses in league history.
Like Arizona, the Rams have a Ring of Fame of their own. It includes 11 former greats such as Eric Dickerson and Deacon Jones. They even have a separate section for former St. Louis football Cardinals, a list that includes the quartet of Dan Dierdorf, Roger Wehrli, Jackie Smith and Larry Wilson. All are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is apparently a requirement to earn the honor.
But the Rams have made past exceptions to honor former greats, honoring some coaches and executives who haven't made it to Canton. Receiver Isaac Bruce had his No. 80 retired by the team and, like Warner, will be first-time eligible for induction this year. Perhaps the Rams are waiting for Warner to land in Canton before he joins the ranks, but why wait?
It can be hard to draw the line between players for honors such as these. Setting a hard and fast standard for having a jersey retired or landing in a ring of honor makes sense. I'm sure Warner will someday have his name amongst the other Rams legends. But Warner's legacy in St. Louis will always supersede any award that can be bestowed upon him elsewhere. And because of that, there is no reason to wait any longer.