Kurt Warner – here to help, not to judge

(Originally published Jan. 30, 2010)

We’re not close, but I’ve had the privilege of meeting Kurt and Brenda Warner on several occasions. They were gracious enough to attend a fundraiser in 2008 for the Phoenix Zoo, which I serve as a board member, and my wife and I have had the opportunity to attend events in support of their foundation, First Things First. There’s not much I can add to all that’s already been said about both of them. I can testify, however, that they are the real deal.

I was living in St. Louis in 1999, the year Kurt emerged from obscurity to play a key role in leading the ragtag Rams from worst to first. I attended the last game he played for the New York Giants, against the Arizona Cardinals, before he lost his starting quarterback position to Eli Manning. Living in Phoenix, I watched his time with the Cardinals become the final, triumphant stage of his career. I was there at his last home game for the Cardinals, that heart-stopping 51-45 victory over the Green Bay Packers. I’ve never seen another career quite like his. What he achieved on the field is remarkable. What he achieved inside his head and heart is more remarkable still.

Kurt’s not regretting his retirement for one second, it seems. He knows the roles of philanthropist, father and husband are still there for him, and he’s eager to to take them on fully. It’s been gratifying to watch Kurt and Brenda, through First Things First, collect winter coats for needy kids in St. Louis, help provide homes for single-mom households in Phoenix, and raise money for flood victims in their native Iowa. (You can see them in the photo above helping out during the Iowa floods. Brenda’s in the white cap.) They’ll be moving on to even bigger roles of service now.

I have friends who say the Warners’ openness about Christianity makes them uncomfortable. The thing I respect about both Kurt and Brenda, however, is they appear in no way to be judgmental about other people. They’re not here to judge, they’re here to help. That, coupled with an unrelenting pursuit of excellence, makes these folks unusual and extraordinary.

There are plenty of self-righteous evangelists giving Christianity a bad name as they declare that specific floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes are God’s punishment against some group they don’t like. Don’t confuse Kurt and Brenda with these legalistic pot stirrers. They’re not looking to put other people down but to pull them up. We should all be trying to join or emulate them.

Grammar tip: Keep related words together, or you’ll confuse your reader. Don’t say, “He noticed a large dent in the car that was on the side.” Say, “He noticed a large dent on the side of the car.”