Sports

Sorry, Iowa: Kurt Warner's son starts big for Big Red

Kade Warner had long TD play in Nebraska's spring game

Iowa native and former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner helps support a board as his wife Brenda trims off a piece as they work with Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity volunteers on building a house for Lampi and Mitwele Kalwilwa along 16th Avenue SW in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, April 23, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa native and former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner helps support a board as his wife Brenda trims off a piece as they work with Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity volunteers on building a house for Lampi and Mitwele Kalwilwa along 16th Avenue SW in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, April 23, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Kurt Warner may have “apologizing” to do in future visits to Eastern Iowa.

His son, you see, is a redshirt freshman wide receiver at Nebraska. Saturday, Kade Warner went 57 yards with a screen pass for a score in the Huskers’ spring football game before 86,818 fans in Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium.

“He only caught one pass,” Kurt Warner said Monday, “but a 57-yard touchdown is a good way to start your college career.”

Kade Warner is a preferred walk-on. He chose Nebraska over Arizona State, near his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. But he also considered Iowa. He visited the school during the weekend of a home football game in 2016. Nebraska plays at Iowa this year on the day after Thanksgiving.

The son of the Hall of Fame quarterback set an Arizona 11-man high school career record with 241 catches, but he was a two-star recruit. That made him somewhat similar to his father. There were no FBS scholarship offers for either.

Kurt was interested in playing at Iowa, but didn’t get a scholarship offer from the Hawkeyes out of Cedar Rapids Regis. So he accepted one from Northern Iowa.

The rest, as they say, is history.

However, it isn’t as if Kurt and his wife, Brenda, have left Iowa behind. Monday, they again returned to Cedar Rapids to help Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity in the construction of a new house on 16th Avenue SW for a family in need.

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The Warners start doing that here in 2009, in the aftermath of the flooding here the year before.

“It’s about coming back to where our roots are here in Iowa,” Kurt said, “and being able to impact a community that impacted us.

“It’s been fun staying connected with Habitat for Humanity, staying connected with Cedar Rapids, and staying connected with the families.”

The Warners were in Lincoln Saturday afternoon. Kurt spoke at Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquets in Des Moines Saturday night and Cedar Rapids Sunday night. He left Cedar Rapids for Cedar Falls Monday afternoon to speak with athletes at the University of Northern Iowa Monday night.

“A busy, crazy weekend,” he called it.

Transcript: Read Kurt Warner's Hall of Fame speech

All the events in Iowa were planned before Nebraska’s announcement in January that it was pushing its spring game back one week. So, the Warners got to tie that in with their packed weekend itinerary.

It’s been eight years since Warner retired as an NFL quarterback. The 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame-inductee’s life has never gotten what you would call slower, though. Besides helping raise seven children, he embarked on a broadcasting career with NFL Network in 2010.

In 2014 he added being the color analyst on Westwood One’s weekly radio broadcasts of the NFL’s Monday night games.

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With Jon Gruden leaving the analyst’s job of ESPN’s Monday Night Football telecasts to become the coach of the Oakland Raiders, Warner is among those that network is considering to replace Gruden.

“The biggest thing is I still have a great passion for the game of football,” Warner said. “I’m able to be semiretired and have a retirement gig where I can do something I’m passionate about. I enjoy going to work every time I go to work, and have the freedom to be able to watch my kids and be with my wife and do the things we want to do.

“But for those people who know me, I’m always up for the next challenge. I’m always looking forward to the next thing, and how I can further myself as a broadcaster since that’s what I’m in now.”

“He gets paid to talk. Imagine that,” Brenda said, teasing her husband.

Monday, though, was a day for action over talk. Now, Warner won’t be building his own house anytime soon. “I’m carrying wood, is what I’m doing,” he said.

But in providing financial and vocal support via his First Things First Foundation, he and his wife stand for something bigger than themselves.

“Talk about Super Bowl rings and Hall of Fame busts and all that stuff,” Kurt said, “but to me the greatest part is we get to do stuff like this. We get to impact peoples’ lives for the long haul, not just by throwing a football or something like that.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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