May 21, 2010
POSTGAME UPDATE: I'm not 100 percent sure what constitutes a totally successful broadcasting debut, but it's safe to say that Warner did very well. Not only did he get his old Iowa Barnstormers jersey number retired at halftime, he proved to be an engaging presence in the booth - he talked intelligently about coverages, what the quarterbacks were seeing, and specific AFL rules and terms. (You'll need that kind of help if you're watching your first AFL game and you hear about a "jack linebacker" getting penalized for "shading" ... and that whole 5 x 5 box thing on defense is just weird.) At times, Warner would talk over the action; then he'd reverse field and seem to be too conscious of that timing to answer a question. But those types of things will be hammered out over time. I think Warner's deserving of the NFL broadcasting chance he wants, and I hope he gets it sooner than later.
If you've got some time Friday night at around 8 p.m. ET, and a way to watch the NFL Network, you might want to tune into an Arena Football League game between the Arizona Rattlers and the Iowa Barnstormers. If Kurt Warner's interviews during his playing time were an indication, you might see the start of a pretty good broadcasting career. Warner, the future Hall-of-Famer and former Barnstormers quarterback, will be doing color for the broadcast alongside former Iowa quarterback Paul Burmeister. Warner, of course, had to make a detour through the AFL and NFL Europe after washing out as an undrafted free agent before finding his way back to the NFL and eventual stardom.
"I'm honored to be the first player inducted into the Barnstormers Hall of Fame and am looking forward to being a guest analyst for the game," Warner told the league's official site. "Having experienced success in both the AFL and NFL, I know that I'll be able to add a great deal of insight as a member of the broadcasting team for this game."
Just as he did as a player — he led the Barnstormers to the Arena Bowl in 1996 and 1997 — Warner hopes to use his time with the indoor league as a stepping stone to the big time. He recently told Michael Hiestand of USA Today that he has "talked with all the networks" [about an on-air job] and "now it's just wait and see. Talking about the game is something I've always enjoyed. ... It's going to be about finding the right situation without giving away my life again."
If you ask me, the NFL could do a lot worse than Warner ... and it frequently does. Just ask anyone forced to endure a game with Matt Millen blathering nonsensically at a breakneck pace (once again, dude ... not every NFL coverage is "Two-deep, man under." Seriously. It's not possible), and you'll wonder exactly what qualifications are mandatory for a broadcasting gig. Warner is fiercely intelligent, he's got a great life story, he's read more defenses than 95 percent of the quarterbacks he'd be analyzing, and he's certainly proven that he won't take "no" for an answer if he doesn't get what he wants at first call. I'm not a big AFL follower per se, but I'll be tuning in Friday night to see if Kurt Warner(notes) is as impressive in his new prospective profession as I expect him to be.
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