By Mike Ostrom
The hotel is buzzing. Valet, security guards, television reporters
everyone is racing around the hotel lobby. Buses carrying the
World Champion St. Louis Rams and Most Valuable Player Kurt Warner
have just arrived.
Players, garbed in Hugo Boss and Armani suits, pass through a gauntlet
of hands and cameras to waiting elevators that will transport them
to their suites. Its night and its dark, but a number
of players are wearing sunglasses.
They more resemble movie stars than warriors of the gridiron.
And then theres Warner, who isnt interested in making
a fashion statement. If Warner were a car, hed be a 67
Mustang with its original paint job. No full-length mink coat here.
Its whats under the hood that matters.
"Ive had times where Ive had to struggle through some
things, and the Lord used that to keep me humble," says Warner. "I
think I have a great perspective on how the Lord used my whole situation
and really what Im supposed to be doing here. Its not
just about stepping on the football field. Its about affecting
peoples lives for Jesus, and thats my platform."
Warner is the epitome of casual. Hes wearing a Christian T-shirt;
in fact, itll be the same T-shirt he wears to breakfast tomorrow
morning. A small Arkansas company that makes T-shirts with a Christian
theme sent a box of free shirts to the Warner home a few months ago,
and he wears them everywhere he goes.
How hot is Kurt Warner? After the Super Bowl win, Gillette wanted
him to do a shaving commercial even though Warner doesnt like
to shave. Not one to violate his principles, Warner declined their
Warner does endorse his own "Crunch Time" breakfast cereal, chocolate
bar and fruit snacks. But he isnt exactly depending on endorsement
deals to pay the bills. The Rams rewarded him with a contract worth
$46.5 million over the next seven years. Where has the money gone?
"I really havent made any purchases," says Warner. "The big
check that I wrote was obviously to the church, which was a definite
blessing there." Months later the only major purchase on Warners
mind is a home that is a little more secluded to preserve, in his
words, "important family time."
At the hotel the night before the game a number of players venture
out to "see the town." Warner is content to have dinner with a friend
quarterback Paul Justin who was cut by the Cowboys during pre-season.
Although neither realizes it at the time, these two former teammates
will be reunited before the season is over. Justin will rejoin the
Rams after Warner goes down with a thumb injury during week eights
loss to Kansas City.
The dinner with Paul Justin lasts an hour and a half. Meanwhile a
number of autograph seekers have gathered outside. One fan, a Christian,
gets his football signed. It reads, "Mike: God bless you, Kurt Warner."
"Im not really into autographs and memorabilia and stuff like
that," says the fan, "but I know itll start some good conversations
in my home with friends who arent Christians. Its a great
conversation piece and naturally flows into a conversation about Jesus
Christ and salvation."
Warner signs everything from trading cards to notebooks before teammates
holding the elevator convince their quarterback its time to
head upstairs. Like a 13 year old being told by his mother to stop
playing sandlot ball and come in for supper, Warner politely shrugs
to the few people who havent received an autograph and says,
"I guess I gotta go. Sorry."
Warners autobiography, All Things Possible, tells how
he accepted Christ and chronicles his dramatic rise from grocery store
shelf-stocker to St. Louis bomber. "It encompasses my whole life,
but more important, what Im all about," says Warner. "Its
about how the Lord built me up to the point where I could handle last
season. I could take on responsibility for the platform that He gave
me and I could use that to touch a lot of lives."
Warner, though young in his walk hes only been a Christian
for six years has a wise-beyond-his-years perspective on his
NFL career and his role in fulfilling the Great Commission.
"Its about affecting peoples lives for Jesus. Thats
why Im here. The Lord put me here for those purposes. I know
that Im here to do the Lords work."
Mike Ostrom lives in The Colony, Texas.