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Warner's super comeback rooted in faith, hard work

TAMPA, Fla. - Four years ago Kurt Warner was having a hard time finding a job.

No matter that he had been to two Super Bowls and won one of them, or that he'd been an NFL and Super Bowl MVP.

The perception was that he was washed up, finished, that his storybook career was approaching an ignominious end.

Then the 37-year-old quarterback wrote the most amazing chapter of all with a season that might cement him a spot in football's Hall of Fame, especially if he can lead the Arizona Cardinals, of all teams, to a Super Bowl victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

'Hopefully, it would recognize him for exactly what he is - one of the best players to ever play his position,' his coach, Ken Whisenhunt, said.

Warner's story is rooted in a deep faith and a persistent drive to be the very best he can be as a person and a football player.

'My approach is hoping that every player that I've played with, every place that I've been, that in some way, shape or form, I leave my stamp on those people and those places,' he said at the Super Bowl media day on Tuesday. 'That's what I want my legacy to be. The football stuff, that's all gravy.'

The football stuff impresses his Pittsburgh counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger.

'He's gone through so much and done so much,' Roethlisberger said. 'To me, I love watching him play. He throws an unbelievable pass and - you know what? - I have a lot of respect for him and the way he plays the game.'

Warner's return to the top is a dominant theme leading up to this Super Bowl, just as it was in his 1999 season.

'Most times when you do something great, it's not overnight,' he said. 'It's not something that comes easy. It comes with a lot of hard work, a lot of time, a lot of commitment.'

The comment pretty much sums up his life.

Warner played for Northern Iowa, but didn't start until he was a senior. Then he tried out for the Green Bay Packers, but was quickly released. So it was back to Cedar Rapids, where he got a job stocking shelves for a supermarket.

His route from there to the NFL included three seasons with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League and two years with the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe.

Before the 1999 season, Warner was a backup with the Rams when starter Trent Green was injured. Coach Dick Vermeil turned to Warner, and the result was one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history.