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February 04, 2013

You just never know

It's remarkable sometimes how an athlete's career plays out.

Years ago _ it was the summer of 1997 _ I stood on the floor of Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, interviewing the quarterback of the winning team in an Arena Football League playoff game.

This particular quarterback, who played for the Iowa Barnstormers, went on to win two regular-season MVP awards in the NFL and was the MVP of the 2000 Super Bowl.

Of course, we're talking about Kurt Warner. But in 1997, who could have foreseen all that happening? Arena football could be fun to watch, but it wasn't exactly the NFL's prime feeder system.

Now, fast forward to December 2007. I slogged through an ice and snow storm so I could get to Cedar Falls to cover a Northern Iowa football playoff game. Not sure what I was thinking because this was after I had retired and I easily could have said, nope, not gonna risk it. But my trusty Pathfinder got me there safely and, looking back, I'd have to say it was worth it.

Northern Iowa was unbetean and a contender for the Division I-AA championship. But the Panthers were upset that day, in part because they had a terrible time trying to tackle the opposing quarterback.

He was big, strong, had a cannon for an arm, was fairly mobile and he just wouldn't go down, even as defenders seemed ready to wrestle him to the turf. Time after time, he slipped away to make a key play. He ended up throwing for two touchdowns and running for another. Afterward, he sat in the modest interview room and talked to us about the "insane atmosphere" in the UNI-Dome and how much fun he had playing there.

Well, on Sunday that quarterback performed in a much bigger dome, in a much bigger game.

Yep, it was Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens, MVP of the Super Bowl, former quarterback at Delaware.

This is one of the great things about football or any other sport. You just never know where it's going to take someone.




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