As Kurt stepped out of his truck, the icy wind ripped at his face, turning his cheeks a splotchy red. He shoved his hands in his pockets. Making sure his finger tips could feel the cold coins inside.
He had run out of gas on the way back home. Not his home, mind you. He was living in the basement of his girlfriend’s parent’s house — with her two kids.
He had a dream of playing in the NFL but found himself working third shift at the local grocer.
Stocking shelves instead of throwing passes.
Touching those coins again in his pocket, he put his head down and pushed back against the winter wind.
It was a new truck. New to him, at least. His one luxury in life.
He was so proud of the truck he had just bought. Kurt knew they shouldn’t have been out driving, not on an empty tank. Not in the snow and cold. Not without any real money.
Stuck on the side of the road, Kurt, Brenda, and the kids dug under the seats and opened all the compartments — looking for any change they could find. It was less than two dollars.
Those were the coins in his pocket.
His chance to get back home and keep fighting for his dream — playing in the NFL.
Despite his current problems, he had made it.
Even though he was working all night at the grocery store, he was the first player at football workouts in the morning. Putting all the energy he had into getting noticed. He showed up. He worked hard. He pushed. He prayed. He believed he could do it.
And he finally did. Kurt Warner got a contract with the Green Bay Packers.
He used his signing bonus to buy that GMC pickup.
Kurt knew he had been training for greatness his whole life. He wasn’t going to be just another football player. He wanted to be a football player to be remembered for ever.
To call Kurt obsessive would be an understatement. You could see it in him as a small boy.
When he was in elementary school, he wore the same pair of ugly green jeans every day for two years. It wasn’t because he didn’t have any clothes. He just liked them.
He applied that same focus to sports. And it paid off. He barely knew defeat on the field as a child. Even as a teenager, he chalked up win after win and championship after championship.
Although he loved baseball and basketball and played them well, Kurt’s love for football couldn’t be missed. He practiced day and night.
Sometimes even throwing passes from himself to himself in the front yard. Regardless of how ridiculous he looked.
He developed a kind of self-motivation that would stick with him even into his adult life. Kurt didn’t need other people patting him on the back and telling him he was doing a good job. He only believed in himself and God. And so he developed a habit of self-talk to and prayer when he needed encouragement to push forward.
Some days were easier than others to pat himself on the back. When his team was taking a championship. When he was a starting quarterback. When there were victories. Those times were easy.
Walking through a winter storm. That wasn’t easy. His upcoming struggle to “make it” — that wasn’t going to be easy.
Weeks later, he was cut by the Packers. Before his career ever started. Kurt ended up playing Arena Football with the Iowa Barnstormers for two years instead of Green Bay.
His team was victorious both years.
It started to work. It seemed.
The St. Louis Rams noticed Kurt and signed him to play for them. But not stateside. He was sent to play for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. Away from Brenda and the kids. Away from NFL scouts. Away from new team workouts. Sent to the other side of the world to try to catch his break.
And it worked. Kind of.
After one season overseas, Kurt Warner was back in the states. He was back with his family. Playing third string quarterback. Keeping his section of the bench warm for the whole season while Tony Banks and Steve Bono stood on the field where he dreamed of being.
The Rams got rid of Bono and Banks and signed a super-star — Trent Green.
There was no way Kurt was going to get on the field. Until he did.
A few weeks into the 1999 NFL preseason Trent went down with a horrific ACL tear to his right knee — shredding the ligaments. The Ram’s coaching staff were in tears at the press conference as they announced the change. Their season was over.
Head coach, Dick Vermeil — who hadn’t given Kurt any practice with the first-string offense through all of training camp or pre-season — tried to rally the support of the team, “We will rally around Kurt Warner, and we’ll play good football.” Little did he know how good it would be.
Kurt threw three touchdowns in his first game. He did it again in his second game. And then in his third game — the only NFL quarterback in history to accomplish that feat. He was just turning up the heat.
He threw five touchdowns in game four. Fourteen total in four games. And a 4-0 record. The following week, Sports Illustrated featured him on their cover with the question “Who Is This Guy?”.
This was his chance. And he was determined to make the most of it.
He put together one of the best seasons by a quarterback in NFL history. He threw for 4,353 yards and 41 touchdown passes — beginning what fans would call “The Greatest Show on Turf” — leading the Rams to a Super Bowl XXXIV championship.
He would take home the MVP trophy. Throwing for over 414 yards of offense — 45 passing attempts without a single interception. That too was an NFL record.
Two years later, Kurt Warner would again take his team to the Super Bowl — claiming the NFL MVP title for the second time in three years.
The rest is history. Literally. He wanted to be remembered. And it happened.
Kurt Warner is considered the best undrafted NFL player of all time.
His career is regarded as one of the greatest stories in NFL history.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017 and is the only person inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Arena Football Hall of Fame.
Success wasn’t easy or automatic. Despite his will to win and the effort, he was willing to invest in his success, he faced outrageous challenges.
The same is true for you.
It’s not good enough to want to win. It’s not good enough to work to win.
You have to be willing to go through hell and back in pursuit of getting to where you want to be.
The bigger your goal, the greater the opposition you’re going to face.
Just because you want something really bad, doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen.
You’re not owed a happy ending. You don’t deserve for things to go right just because you’re doing the right thing.
The hard truth about accomplishing your dreams is that you have to be “all in” on your own success. Willing to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes.
You might find yourself in the basement of your girlfriend’s parents house. Trying to make it by.
Don’t give up the fight because you’re not where you want to be yet. Don’t stop fighting for your dream because you don’t see the results you’re expecting yet.
Success is what you make it.