411mania Interviews: Two Time NFL MVP Kurt Warner
Kurt Warner’s story is that from a Hollywood script, from bagging groceries to a two time NFL MVP and a Super Bowl champion. He begins a new job tonight as host of The Moment, a new reality show from USA that helps people get their second chance at a dream job.
Al Norton: Where was The Moment in development when you came on board and how did that happen?
Kurt Warner: The premise for the show was already there; ironically enough considering my story, I didn’t come up with the premise. The production company reached out to me, familiar with my story, to gauge my interest and see who I was, have a little more extensive conversation. We sat down and they had their initial premise and then we kicked around some different ideas. I think that’s where it really started to take shape. We kicked around some ideas and they like my thoughts and felt I could handle hosting the show and for me it was really a no brainer; I loved the premise and one of my pre-requisites was that this show wasn’t just an hour of impact, wasn’t just what we were used to seeing on TV. I wanted us to use this show to present opportunities to people that may not typically be chosen to be a show. We wanted to try to help make some dreams come true, to help people get started down that path, and it just felt like it was a good fit for all of us.
We all had the same kind of ideas of what kind of impact we wanted to have the show, what we wanted the show to be, and we decided to move forward.
Al Norton: We’re you looking to get into TV at the time or was it more of a “hey, this project seems great and I’ve got some ideas of my own, too”?
Kurt Warner: It wasn’t anything that I was pursuing. Once I retired I didn’t really know what the future would have in store, what else I could do, really. I just kind of sat back; I took on some different initiatives, I did Dancing with the Stars, I did the NFL Network stuff. It was more of the blue when they reached out. I didn’t know anything about hosting a show or being on TV but I felt there’s a need for this kind of television and it lined up with what I wanted to accomplish in retirement. It was a great challenge and opportunity for me and with all those things in line I was like, “why not? Let’s try this thing!”
The great thing for me is that I’ve already accomplished a great deal and had a lot of success in my field so anything I try after football is not an end all be all. Not that I don’t want to be successful but I thought, “sure, I’ll try it, and if it doesn’t work out I’ll move on to the next thing and try to become good at that.”
I do think because of the type of show this is and what it represents that it’s important we do it well, and I think we did, and hopefully we can be successful.
Al Norton: Your career was the kind of job you did a lot of training for to get ready; what did you do to get ready for hosting a TV show?
Kurt Warner: It’s funny because I really didn’t know what to do, especially because it was reality TV; it wasn’t acting and learning lines. It was being yourself, getting comfortable with what the role asked for – what the network wanted, what the producers wanted. That was the hardest thing because in reality TV, you don’t know what you’re going to get, what the reactions are going to be or what’s going to happen from one moment to the next so it really was a feeling out process. I know I’ve got a lot of work to do to get better at it but it was something I got more and more comfortable with as the season went on, I got a better sense of what my role would be. It was very difficult from the stand point because there wasn’t a whole I could do to prepare; I just had to jump in and have trials and errors. Hopefully the show goes well and we’ll get another season so I can just get even better at it.
Al Norton: You’re used to your job being physically and mentally exhausting but was this sort of a show a new level of emotional exhaustion from work?
Kurt Warner: I think there’s all kinds of emotions the show brings out. When you’re a part of it and see and experience the different emotions live, yes, you get connected with these people and see the struggles and frustrations they are having and you can relate to that and struggle with them. There’s other times you see the breakthroughs and you feel that excitement with them. There’s moments where you want to just step in and help them because you know what it’s like to deal with doubting yourself and wondering if you can really do this. Your really do kind of ride the wave with them.
The reason I did the show was because I want everybody to get the job, I want everybody to experience the dream the way I did, so you get emotionally connected to these families and when they’re crying you want to cry with them and when their excited you’re right there hugging with them. It’s a neat part of the job. You hope the viewers will feel the same way, feel the same connection and have the show resonate with them. You want the audience to say, “I want this in my life, I want a shot at the dream, I want to live those moments when you go from doubt to knowing you can do it.”
Al Norton: What was it like for you the first time you saw someone on the show get offered their dream job?
Kurt Warner: It was cool. The surreal moment that I remember when I was told I had made it in the NFL, I was feeling like “is this really happening, after all this time, is this really happening?” and you can sense that with these folks, too. The individuals are like, “ok, what’s the catch.” The ironic thing about it is once they are told they get the job, they still have to make the decision to take it. Up until that point, the only goal is to get the job, and once you get the job you have to really start weighing what it really means. What does it mean financially, what does it mean for my family, what does it mean for the sacrifices I’m going to have to make? That’s what gives the show so many layers. It’s just like in life; you go through one hurdle and immediately after that another hurdle is going to come. You have to go through those defining moments and decide what the best thing is for you, what you really want, if you’re willing to commit everything you need to because that’s the only way it’s going to work. Different things can happen on different episodes, different people struggle with different things, and that’s one of the things I love about it.
Al Norton: What reality shows do you watch?
Kurt Warner: We watch The Biggest Loser. We’ve watched American Idol over the years and we really like The Voice, too.
Al Norton: The NFL has made moves recently to address player safety, with some of former players thinking they have gone too far; how do you feel about it?
Kurt Warner: I’m all for it. I believe that even with subtle changes to rules, this is still the best team sport that’s out there and it will continue to be so if we protect the players. The one thing that ultimately hurt this game more than anything else is if we don’t make the proper adjustments to protect the players, who are the game’s greatest commodity and what makes the game special. If you have to refocus on how you tackle, if you have to learn different ways of hitting guys, I’m fully for it. As a parent I understand the risks and I worry about that with my kids playing and as a former player I want to be as big an advocate as I can for the game as well as for player safety and want us to continue to find ways to make it safer and protect the kids from Pop Warner all the way through the NFL. It’s not just about protecting players while they are playing; it’s protecting them for the 40 years after they retire and protecting the quality of life they deserve to live.
Al Norton: I apologize for baiting you a bit with this next question but since the 2002 Super Bowl there’s been a lot of information and allegations that have come out involving the Patriots, with some of your former teammates being very outspoken on the subject, so I am wondering if you look at their victory in that game as in any way tainted?
Kurt Warner: I don’t look at it as tainted at all, that’s not the perspective that I choose to take. But with that being said, I will say that I don’t know how you can’t wonder, how you can’t wonder if something did happen, if there was an advantage. I simply say that because to know that there was evidence out there, that there were tapes out there, but no one ever got to see the tapes – the commissioner or whoever decided they were going to destroy them from what I understand – and so it continually leaves the question. Being that it was a part of the history of our game and it was directly part of my history, part of the history of my organization and my teammates, and possibly could have affected my career long term, you have a question; did something go on? But I don’t allow that to taint or affect the way I look at it. The Patriots beat us in that game – they outplayed us, they deserved to win – but it’s hard to just let it go by saying, “Oh, I don’t know if anything happened.” I still have a question on what exactly when down in that whole time period; did they get some kind of advantage? Maybe it wasn’t in our game but did they get some kind of advantage in any game? I think it’s unfortunate for us and the people involved and for the people that are football fans that we have to even wonder “what if?” but I’m not going to take that credit away from them and those players because I have really no idea what happened, if anything. I’m not going to automatically chalk it up as they cheated or they did do something or did have something because I don’t know. It’s unfortunate that I have to sit back and other players and fans have to sit back and wonder if.
Al Norton: For folks who might not think of themselves as the target audience for The Moment, what might surprise them about it?
Kurt Warner: I think the first thing that’s going to surprise them is that it’s not reality television in the way most people have come to think of reality television; most people think of it as all based on chaos and failure. This is one based on inspiration and hope, it’s about showing people they can be more than they think they can be. So much of reality TV is, “we’re going to show you someone who’s worse off than you so you don’t have to aspire to be any better, you’ll just feel better about yourself after watching because you’re not as bad off as that person.”
This show is about inspiring people to be more, to make more of themselves. I am a believer that if you’re not living in your passion, if you’re not doing what you love to do on a regular basis than you’re always going to have a void, there’s always going to be something missing in life. That’s really what the hope of this show is, that it inspires everybody to whatever degree to be sure what they love to do, what they’re gifted in, is a part of their live somehow, someway. There are people going through life miserable, punching a clock every day and doing what they think they have to do, and we hope this show can push them to do what they want to do, what they love to do.
Don’t miss the series premiere of The Moment, tonight at 10pm on USA