Thursday, January 22, 2009

Never Overlook Those Panthers

As the humble li'l University of Northern Iowa Panthers notched a comeback victory over the pesky Bradley Braves last night to remain atop the Missouri Valley Conference (and in line for its automatic tourney bid), our greatest export is prepping for another Super Bowl, only this time with the Cardinals.

When Kurt Warner came into the league and burst onto the scene with a freakish first season as a starter, those of us familiar with his resume on the now-defunct Iowa Barnstormers knew it was no aberration. But soon he got the injury bug, got bounced from the Rams, was signed by the Giants to be a mentor to Eli, and then shipped to Arizona to live out his golden years as so many over-the-hill Americans do.

Except he's come back to show that his time on top the league was no fluke and that he's always been a great quarterback. But over on, Kerry Byrne argues that the pride of Panther nation is actually a better quarterback than the vaunted Peyton Manning.

Yeah, even I didn't believe it when I saw the headline, but he makes a good case -- Warner has a better career passer rating, a better post-season passer rating, a better post-season record, has been to more Super Bowls (with arguable worse teams), and has thrown more post-season touchdowns, despite playing in five fewer playoff games. If he had been in the NFL his entire career, we can only ponder the kind of eye-popping stats he could have put up by now.

Which all goes to confirm what I've been saying since the Cards became a decent team this season -- if Warner isn't an automatic first-ballot Hall of Fame QB, then I don't know who is.

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