Iowans may not realize how fortunate they are to have the professional athletes who call Iowa home.
I’m not talking about Ricky Davis denying he played HS and some college basketball in Iowa, but the good ones.
The Kurt Warner story is well-known around the country and for good reason. His rise from stockboy to NFL MVP in an absolute storybook life to this point.
Warner played high school ball at Cedar Rapids Regis. We could do a whole post about CR Regis with famous alums of KW, Zach Johnson, Mary Brigid Arnold Christianson and Stacy Behmer. The University of Iowa didn’t recruit him. Warner went north to Cedar Falls to play for the University of Northern Iowa.
He played for the Iowa Barnstormers where I got to cover him as an intern sports guy for WHO-TV. I still have my Arena Bowl X media gift bag somewhere in my house.
Warner makes the NFL, leads the Rams to the Super Bowl, gets benched, goes to another team, then the hapless Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl. I wasn’t sure how much of an impact Warner had on St. Louis. But even after his time was done, there’s still Warner jersey’s around town. Last year during the baseball Cardinals’s Winter Warm Up, an Arizona playoff game was on a TV in the hotel lobby in St. Louis.
The crowd cheered each time Warner was successful. They will always like Warner in St. Louis. Will he enter the Hall of Fame as a Ram, Cardinal or Barnstormer?
It has been very nice to see all the positive coverage Warner’s retirement has received this week.
The other great Iowa professional athlete story involves Indianola’s own Casey Blake.
News came this week of Blake’s 1 million dollar check he wrote to the Indianola Community School District. The money will serve as a matching portion of a $2 million effort for athletic facilities in Indianola.
During my radio work for the 2008 football season, West Des Moines Dowling Catholic played at Indianola in late October. The Dodger’s season ended on a Wednesday I believe. Blake was at the football game talking to fans and friends on the Indianola sideline. He’s likes to come back home.
And if you’re writing part of your Major League salary to your hometown, then I call that good act.
Blake also likes to hunt. That’s what he’s talking about with my brother-in-law Chad in the photos here from St. Louis in July, 2009. The Wood’s and Yeager’s were in St. Louis for game 1 of the regular season series between the Dodgers and Cardinals.
Chad and Casey talk at least once a year to get together and hunt.
Casey always is giving back of his time in town. So is Kurt Warner. He was there when Cedar Rapids flooded in 2008. He always has a soft spot for Iowa. Even when he’s visiting family in the Quad Cities and he picks up the tab of everyone bowling at an area alley like he did about 4 years ago.
Iowans should feel fortunate that Kurt and Casey call Iowa home.