Former QB Kurt Warner finds lessons on leadership everywhere

Thursday, March 1, 2012
Kurt Warner

Kurt Warner can find leadership lessons anywhere -- even in the film "300."

Speaking to more than 3,000 people at the Show Me Center on Wednesday evening, the former quarterback used clips from the 2006 film about ancient Greeks fighting the Persians to inspire the audience.

"Notice that the Spartan king does not ask his followers to do anything he wouldn't do himself," Warner said after showing the first clip.

"This is true even with my children. Sometimes they don't want to listen to Dad, but they will watch me closely."

Warner, who was quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals during his 12-year NFL career, earned NFL Most Valuable Player awards in 1999 and 2001. In 1999 he led the Rams to a 13-3 regular-season record and a win in Super Bowl XXXIV over the Tennessee Titans. He later led the Rams to another Super Bowl appearance in 2001 and the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII in 2009.

People often ask him if the MVP awards or the Super Bowls are what he holds in highest esteem, he said.

"I proceed to tell them about my daughter's store," Warner said. "You might think these are things held on high ground around my house, but I once had to buy my NFL Championship ring back from my daughter's imaginary store for a dollar."

The greatest thing he has ever had the opportunity to do, he said, is have a positive effect on others.

"We are all made up of the influences others have had on us," Warner said. "It's our action that defines our impact, and our leadership ability that defines our actions. Anyone can have an impact; there are no qualifications to change a life."

Since retiring from the NFL in 2010, he and his wife, Brenda, have dedicated themselves to their First Things First foundation, which focuses on promoting Christian values and motivating young people.

"My son and I are huge fans, and we came out to hear something inspirational from Kurt," said Kate LeBrook of Cape Girardeau. "It's great to have my son see a great athlete be so great at life, too."

Joanna Shaver, Southeast's coordinator of campus programs, said she was impressed by the turnout and that student reaction was phenomenal.

"We couldn't have asked for anything better," Shaver said. "This speaks well for our speaker series in the future. We'll just have to try and top this, although it'll be difficult."

Warner recently wrote a book based on his struggles to succeed in a world of pessimism, "All Things Possible," and plans to make more motivational speeches to students around the country. He is also a broadcaster and commentator for the NFL Network and Fox Sports.

Warner is one of the headliners of Southeast Missouri State University's annual speaker series, which brings various presenters to Cape Girardeau.

jsamons@semissourian.com

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1333 N. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau MO

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