Dan Marino's eyes followed Kurt Warner through the aisle of a grocery store and it was enough to motivate the latter to pursue his professional American football dreams.
Warner explained during his Hall of Fame induction speech at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio on Saturday that he saw the Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback on a box of Wheaties while stocking shelves in Iowa.
A 3 a.m. conversation with that box of Wheaties "set the wheels of change in motion" for Warner to eventually join Marino as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"Dan, I know you have no idea the role you played, but thanks for the motivation," he said to Marino, who was seated behind Warner as he delivered his induction speech as the last member of the seven-man 2017 Hall of Fame class to speak Saturday in Canton.
After going undrafted from Northern Iowa in 1994, Warner spent training camp with the Green Bay Packers but was released. He then bagged groceries before getting an opportunity to play for the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League. After three seasons with the Barnstormers, with two Arena Bowl berths, Warner went to NFL Europe in 1998 before getting another shot at the NFL with the St Louis Rams in 1999.
Becoming the Rams starter was a game of chance, landing the job only after incumbent QB Trent Green suffered a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game. Warner ended up being the NFL MVP in 1999. He was also the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV. He was named league MVP again in 2001, when he led the Rams back to the Super Bowl, and later helped the Arizona Cardinals reach their only Super Bowl in 2008.
"I wasn't sure this moment was ever going to come," Warner said. "People say Hollywood couldn't have written it any better. After this, they don't have a chance."
"Those pinnacle accomplishments on the field were simply by-products of the moments that would lay the foundation of the man who stands here this evening."
He included the "Kill Kurt" drill in high school that helped him face his fears and stand tall in the pocket as a quarterback.
Warner thanked his dad for always saying, "Yes," whenever his son wanted to spend time with him. Warner said those yeses kept him going in the face of some many noes.
He sat on the bench at UNI for four years, asking fellow Hall of Famers on the stage to raise their hands if any of them sat on the bench for four years at any point in their lives. Nobody raised their hands. "Exactly," Warner said.
His mother talked him out of transferring from UNI and to be grateful for his opportunity. She told him to "never stop working or preparing because God had a plan."
He said his mother reminded him of those exact things, not just by what she said but by how she worked three jobs so her sons could play sports.
"She taught me that even when life doesn't give you what you want, you never stop believing," Warner said. "Mom, so much of who you see today was formed from what I saw in you. The spirit of perseverance that runs through my veins and which has defined my career were without question passed down by you."
|Celtics forward Hayward expected to be fully cleared by August|
|Nationals acquire closer Herrera from Royals|
|Angels star Ohtani to be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks|
|Trotz resigns as Capitals coach after Stanley Cup win|
|Rangers score four runs in ninth to pick up walk-off win over Rockies|
|Astros top Royals, push winning streak to 10|
|LeBron James doesn´t need to chase championships, says O´Neal|
|Brady: The end is coming sooner rather than later|
|Cubs take control early, cruise to win over Cardinals|
|Canadiens acquire Domi from Coyotes for Galchenyuk|
|Royals´ Soler suffers hand fracture|
|NBA to honour Oscar Robertson with Lifetime Achievement Award|
|Steve Kerr’s coolest congratulatory text? Tiger Woods|
|Red Sox hold off Mariners´ magic in 2-1 victory|
|Eagles unveil Super Bowl rings with one perfect touch|
|Raptors hire Nick Nurse as next coach|
|Cowboys´ Martin signs extension to become NFL´s highest-paid guard|
|Red-hot Mariners win again, but challenges loom|
|Capitals´ Orpik lost part of finger in Stanley Cup Final, kept playing|
|Gregorius hits two home runs in Yankees´ victory over Nationals|
|Tigers´ Cabrera out for season with ruptured biceps tendon|
|Rams ordered to pay former NFL running back Bush $12.5m in damages|
|Irving on reuniting with LeBron: We´ll see what management decides|
|Capitals go crazy at Stanley Cup parade|
|Warriors get wild celebrating second straight title at parade|
|Colts QB Luck finally resumes throwing|
|Durant dismisses LeBron to Warriors talk|
|Giants QB Eli Manning: I´ve still got some peak years left|
|Dennis Rodman flies to Singapore for historic Trump-Kim summit|
|Red Sox break scoreless tie in 12th to top Orioles|
|Warriors assistant mystified by West´s comment about team drama|
|Bryant says LeBron has to ´figure out a way´ to win more championships|
|Durant can have ´whatever deal he wants´, say Warriors|
|Jones skipping Falcons´ mandatory minicamp|
|Casey appointed Detroit Pistons coach|
|Kevin Durant: I could retire at 35|
|Kevin Love wants to remain with LeBron James & Cavaliers|
|Mets release first baseman Gonzalez, recall Smith|
|Pirates bats awaken to avoid Cubs sweep|
|Astros score go-ahead run against Rangers on ninth-inning balk|
|Maddon unsure if Darvish will return before All-Star break|
|Rays send Miller to Brewers|
|Wade: LeBron´s decision will be a ´lifestyle thing´|
|What next for LeBron James? 3 perfect fits, 3 teams to avoid|
|Ten way-too-early predictions for the 2018-19 NBA season|
|Seahawks´ Thomas holding out of mandatory minicamp|
|Mets fall to Yankees, losing streak reaches eight|
|Warriors´ Durant discusses narrative he ruined the NBA|
|Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski calls trade rumours ‘fake news’|
|Steve Kerr cannot separate LeBron James and Michael Jordan|
|A Golden (State) era, Warriors reign from deep & the brilliance of LeBron - NBA Finals in numbers|
|Warriors dynasty? Curry just wants to ´keep this thing going´|
|Harden and Durant not safe if LeBron enters free agency - World Peace|
|Kerr contract extension top priority for Warriors after Finals win|
|Lue plans to keep coaching Cavaliers, and hopefully LeBron|
|NBA rivals unable to find antidote to dominant Warriors|
|Yankees win Subway Series opener as Mets´ woes continue|
|LeBron says he played last three Finals games with hand injury, undecided on future|
|Kerr: Warriors´ 2018 NBA title the hardest by far|
|Durant wins second successive NBA Finals MVP|
|Warriors defend NBA title thanks to Cavs sweep|
|LeBron James gets ´MVP´ ovation in likely Cleveland farewell|
|BREAKING NEWS: Warriors win back-to-back NBA titles after sweeping Cavs|
|Blake Griffin was exhausted because Clippers never practiced – Pistons assistant|
|Texans safety Andre Hal diagnosed with Hodgkin´s lymphoma|
|Ohtani elbowed out of action for Angels|
|We´re not inviting the NBA champions - Trump responds to LeBron, Curry|
|Diddy no longer interested in NFL ownership|
|Kevin Durant planning on Warriors stay|
|Dodgers sluggers Pederson, Bellinger starting to heat up|