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Kurt Warner Retires from NFL

Cards' Warner calls it quits

Tempe, AZ (Sports Network) - Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner announced his retirement Friday, bringing a decorated 12-year stay in the NFL to a close.

After Arizona's season ended in a loss to New Orleans in the divisional playoffs, many speculated that the 38-year-old Warner would put his playing days behind him.

He did that Friday, flanked by his family, and citing his faith in God for helping him reach levels of success that included a pair of MVP awards and three Super Bowl appearances, with one NFL title, after starting out at the bottom.

"I was an average ordinary guy, working in a grocery store, trying to make ends meet, playing Arena Football, and then God entered the equation, and he's done something pretty extraordinary over the last 12 years. I've been humbled every day I've gotten up over the last 12 years. It's been 12 unbelievable years, 12 of the best years of my life, but I'm just as excited about the next 12. I'm excited about what lies in front of me, and spending more time with my family and seeing what God is going to do next," said Warner.

Warner spent his final five seasons with Arizona, leading the beleaguered franchise to its first Super Bowl appearance after the 2008 campaign. The Cardinals nearly pulled off a victory last February, dropping a last-minute 27-23 decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"To be a part of my second Super Bowl team, that's the thing I'm most proud of. Helping this organization and the organization in St. Louis get to that level. These last three years (as a starter) have really finished the story. The Hall of Fame, it's a bookend to my career that I wanted," Warner said of the legacy he leaves behind.

In 2009, Warner started 15 games and missed one after suffering symptoms of a concussion. He also took a vicious shot in the divisional playoff game at New Orleans, when Saints defensive end Bobby McCray delivered a hit to an unsuspecting Warner after he had thrown an interception late in the first half of the 45-14 loss.

Warner finished a roller-coaster career at the top of his game, as he completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 3,753 yards with 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for the NFC West champs this season. Last year, he threw for 4,583 yards with 30 touchdowns and 14 picks.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Warner threw for 32,344 yards with 208 touchdowns and 128 interceptions in his career with the Rams, Giants and Cardinals.

"I knew deep down how well I could still play (but) there is no question in my mind that I'm doing what I want to do, that I'm making the right decision. I prayed about it, I believed it, I felt it was the right time," Warner said.

"I think that's one of the amazing things about this whole story is that it took three different teams taking a chance on me at three different times, in three different situations, to allow me to be standing up here and to have accomplish what I have accomplished," Warner said.

"The one thing I always want to leave people with when I thought about my career ending and getting to this point, is I wanted people to remember that anything is possible...with my story, with the way it came about, the fact that it took me so long to get here. I think I'm a living example (of that). I hope that when people think back on my career...that's what they remember more than anything else. Not the way I threw the football, not particular games that I won, but that they remember that here's a guy that believed, that worked hard and...continued to press through and with his faith in himself and his faith in God (and) was able to accomplish great things. That's what I want everybody to remember."

A former Arena Football star, Warner first gained notoriety during the 1999 season with St. Louis when he inherited the starter's role after Trent Green was injured during the preseason.

Warner proceeded to lead the Rams to their first Super Bowl victory, winning his first MVP award after throwing for 4,353 yards with 41 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also garnered Super Bowl MVP honors after leading the Rams to a 23-16 win over Tennessee.

Another MVP season in 2001 led to another St. Louis Super Bowl appearance, but this time the heavily favored Rams were beaten by the New England Patriots.

Warner has the three best passing days in Super Bowl history -- a record 414 yards against the Titans, 377 last year against the Steelers and 365 against the Patriots. His 1,156 career passing yards are the most in Super Bowl history -- surpassing Joe Montana's previous mark of 1,142.

"Kurt Warner epitomizes the finest qualities that can be attributed to any athlete. He is a gentleman, competitor and, most of all, a winner whose achievements and contributions go far beyond the field of play. Kurt is one of the most compelling success stories in the history of sports," Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom said in a release from the team. "We all learned great lessons from Kurt's humility, dignity and grace. We will forever be thankful for the success he brought us and the unparalleled generosity he has shown the St. Louis community and beyond."

After playing a combined nine games during injury-filled seasons of 2002 and 2003 with the Rams, Warner landed with the New York Giants in 2004 and began the season as the starter. He held that position, starting nine of the 10 games he played, until current Giants star Eli Manning was ready.

The move to Arizona followed the next season and he started 10 games in 2005. Another hot-shot rookie entered the fold in 2006, as Warner had to battle Matt Leinart for playing time.

After starting just five games in '06, Warner wrested the job away from Leinart in 2007 and led the Cardinals to heights they'd never before seen.

Leinart, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Southern California, would appear to be the front-runner to take over the starter's duties in 2010 in Warner's absence.

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