The retired Hall of Fame quarterback and the San Francisco 49ers quarterback share similar backstories
Kurt Warner famously bagged groceries before getting his chance to lead the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl championship two decades ago.
The retired Hall of Fame quarterback knows a thing or two about being irrelevant if not exactly being Mr. Irrelevant.
Yet Warner thinks that Brock Purdy — who earned the unfortunate nickname after he was drafted 262nd and last in the 2022 NFL Draft — has benefited from something else, and it has little to do with how he entered the league.
“All you're doing is looking for an opportunity,” Warner, 52, tells PEOPLE while sharing details of his Bingo Blitz Big Game Sweepstakes. “An opportunity to compete, and for people not to look at where you played college football or what you've been doing or the fact that you played in arena football or that you had to work in a grocery store, that you were Mr. Irrelevant, or you were the No. 1 overall pick.”
He adds, “And you just want every athlete to get the opportunity to compete and show what they're capable of and not have anybody put 'em in a box or put preconceived expectations on what they can be based on where they were drafted or whatever that is.”
Purdy’s ascension has Warner excited — and ready to see how he matches up with the big game’s other quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.
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“The contrasting of these two players both being at the mountaintop, both being in this position, I think it can connect to so many different people that are out there going, okay, it doesn't matter where you start, it doesn't matter where you get drafted, it doesn't matter what people think, what matters is what you do in those moments,” Warner says.
Despite leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl berth, the 24-year-old Purdy has received criticism from pundits who have called him a “pocket passer” or “game manager” who has only benefited from his talented teammates and coach.
Yet the NFL Network analyst is a fan of Purdy’s performance thus far.
“He's raised his play and done great in the moment,” Warner says. “I'm excited for him and all I think it does is elevate our game because so much of our game is about hope. Whether it's hope for players being able to fulfill their dream, whether it's hope of teams being able to turn it around or find that guy that can lead him to a Super Bowl.”
He adds, “And it has been fun to watch what he's done over the first two years and it'll be fun to watch and see what he becomes. Too often, we think just because a guy's in that moment, he's got to be great right off the bat, and we don't give them a chance to show us what they're going to be.”
And Warner should know, given his roundabout entry — via arena football — into the NFL.
“He's not Patrick Mahomes yet, just let him be Brock Purdy,” Warner says. “This is another moment for him to share his story, to develop that, and then get a chance to show people — millions and millions of people — who he is and what he's made of.”
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