Even before his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he was the ultimate rags to riches guy. How does one transition from the Arena Football League to NFL Super Bowl champ? For collectors, Kurt Warner rookie cards stand out because he’s the only NFL player who had multiple professional cards before his first “official” rookie cards arrived. Now that he’s a Hall of Famer, Warner’s cards will likely be the beneficiary of the respect that comes with a bust in Canton.
Not everyone has such a resume or feel good story.
Warner was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1971. After playing college football at Northern Iowa, Warner really wasn’t on the radar for most NFL teams. He was initially signed by the Green Bay Packers after going undrafted-but that didn’t quite pan out. So his only option was to keep playing football at what some consider a lower level.
True, the Iowa Barnstormers wasn’t the ultimate pro football job a kid dreams about when he’s playing backyard football. Warner, though, took it seriously and lit up opposing defenses with his cannon arm. His accuracy was noted throughout the league and his determination to win was perhaps unrivaled. Warner passed for 10,486 yards in just 3 seasons with Iowa on a shorter field. In his final season in 1997, he tossed an amazing 79 touchdown passes and only 14 interceptions. He was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Warner appeared on Arena Football League cards with the Iowa Barnstormers in 1995, 1996 and 1997. Warner’s card in the 1995 set, sponsored by Taco John’s restaurants, isn’t available in large quantities but at least one can usually be found on eBay.
Move to the NFL
His passion and mind-boggling statistics eventually led to an opportunity in St. Louis with the NFL Rams. Warner immediately excelled under coach Dick Vermeil and offensive coordinator Mike Martz. “Excelled” is really an understatement. Warner went on to become one of the more prolific passers during his era. He led the Rams to a Super Bowl title in 1999 with what was deemed as “Greatest Show on Turf.” Warner earned two NFL MVP honors in 1999 and 2001.
Warner was amazingly accurate and always kept a very high passer rating. In all, he played 12 total seasons with the Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals. He retired from the NFL in 2010 with 32,344 total yards passing and 208 touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who was once left for the ranks of indoor football. Warner still stands to this day as the only quarterback to play in both the NFL and Arena Football championship games. Warner also still holds the top three positions for the most yardage passed for in a Super Bowl with 414 (St. Louis vs. Tennessee XXXIV), 377 (Arizona vs. Pittsburgh XLIII) and 365 (St. Louis vs. New England(XXXVI).
After signing with St. Louis, he spent time in NFL Europe, then served as the Rams’ third string quarterback in 1998 where he did appear on a Rams team issue card.
Kurt Warner Rookie Cards
Finally, in 1999 at age 28, he began appearing in major football card brands as a member of the Rams. His success led to more cards as the year continued. His Playoff Contenders autographed rookies numbered to 1825 are the most popular but he also has Rookie Ticket, Powder Blue and Speed Red autos from that issue.
As with most modern era rookie cards, Warner’s low serial numbered cards are the most sought after. Beyond the Contenders cards, Bowman’s Best Atomic Refractors and Skybox Autographics, each numbered to 100, are also popular.
Other non-autographed Warner rookie cards from 1999 remain quite reasonable and can be obtained easily, some for just a few dollars.
You can see a list of the hottest Kurt Warner football cards on eBay via the live list below.