friend and former teammate of Kurt Warner gives film high marks | News

Even before the first scenes of the new movie “American Underdog” hit the screen at the Carroll 5 Theater, Carroll’s Tim Rial already knew the heart of the story. After all, he had been Kurt Warner’s teammate at the University of Northern Iowa, and their friendship forged from that time is still strong.

“He cared about school and hard work, and he was a competitor in training,” Rial said of Warner. “He never took a play off, and I liked it. We always went out and competed.

Rial said that “American Underdog” is a winner with his history of football, family and faith.

The film chronicles Warner’s impossible dream trip from quarterback UNI to the Super Bowl champion.

Indeed, Warner’s footballing career is central to the story, but “American Underdog”, based on Warner’s autobiography, “All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football and the First Miracle Season”, is focuses even more on how Warner met his wife. -to-be, Brenda, country dancing at the Wild E. Coyote bar near the UNI campus and the struggles and growth of their relationship. Brenda was a Navy veteran, a divorced mother with two children – including her son Zack, who suffered severe brain damage and went blind after his father accidentally dropped him as a baby.

Rial and his family attended “American Underdog” on a night last month with soccer players and coaches from Kuemper Catholic High School as part of a team building activity.

“I think the film really does a great job of portraying the relationship with him and Brenda and his two children, who he later adopted,” Rial told The Times Herald.

Kurt and Brenda were the executive producers of the film and were said to have been heavily involved in ensuring its accuracy, with the exception of a few Hollywood freedoms.

“So that’s one thing that they were able to share: their journey of life and their journey of faith,” said Rial, adding, “The film did a great job of portraying their relationship. conventional relationship …. Faith has always been part of their journey.

Tim and his wife Lisa, both graduates of Atlantic High School in 1988, attended Kurt and Brenda’s wedding in 1997.

Four years earlier, on June 5, 1993, Kurt, a native of Burlington and graduated from Cedar Rapids Regis High School in 1989, was a groomsman reading the scriptures for the Rial’s wedding in SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in the Atlantic.

At the induction ceremony for Kurt Warner (back, right) into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in 2017, Carroll’s Tim Rial was in attendance with his sons (front, left) Trevor and Logan.

UNI wide receiver Rial and Warner formed their friendship playing on the Panthers’ backup squad, unable to break up the starting lineup because the Panthers were an annual powerhouse both in the Gateway conference and nationally. Rial played behind Ken Shedd, who pursued an NFL career with the New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins. Meanwhile, Warner backed Jay Johnson, who led UNI to three conference championships and national playoffs.

“We trained together in the same offensive unit most of the time,” Rial said of Warner, “so I always thought of him as my quarterback. I knew he was really good and that he just needed the opportunity to show what he could really do, and unfortunately, he didn’t really get it until his fifth year.

When Warner finally had his chance as a senior, he led UNI to the conference championship and the playoffs, giving him a silver lining for a professional future, but it would be a long rocky road to the NFL.

“The film did a great job portraying its struggles not only at UNI, but also being cut off by the Packers (Green Bay) and hoping for another opportunity,” Rial said.

Stocking shelves at a Hy-Vee grocery store to help pay his bills, Warner had the opportunity to return to football when the new Iowa team Barnstormers Arena Football League called him in in 1995. .

Tim, Lisa and Tim’s parents attended Warner’s first game at the arena in Madison, Wisconsin.

While the Barnstormers were still a long way from the big moment, Warner fine-tuned his game in the Arena ball, leading to a stint with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe.

Then, in 1998, the St. Louis Rams gave Warner another NFL star. When Rams starting quarterback Trent Green suffered an injury in a preseason game in 1999, Warner was fortunate enough to step up his efforts. And he delivered, driving an attack with receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt and running back Marshall Faulk who was so explosive (33 points per game) he was known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

The Rams ended this season with a thrilling Super Bowl XXXIV victory over the Tennessee Titans, and Warner was named MVP of the game.

Warner and the Rams were denied another crown – Super Bowl XXXVI – when the New England Patriots scored a 48-yard field goal late in the game to claim a 20-17 victory.

As the Rams’ fortunes began to decline, Warner hit the road again to find new football homes. The Rams released him after the 2003 season and he landed with the New York Giants, where he was 5-4 as a starter. Instead, the Giants at the time were relying on their quarterback future on Eli Manning, which would lead them to two Super Bowl wins.

Warner’s next stop was the Arizona Cardinals from 2005 to 2009. After starter Matt Leinhart, who had a spectacular college career at USC, got injured, Warner propelled the Cardinals into a contender for the championship, to suffer a heartbreaking 27-23. Super Bowl XLIII loss to Pittsburgh as the Steelers scored the winning touchdown with just 42 seconds left.

Rial said, “It’s great to follow Kurt through his career, his ups and downs. The Rams cut him off after two Super Bowls, his injuries the Giants put him on the bench to save a bonus of $ 6 million and to play Eli Manning, Ariz. He played behind Matt Leinhart.

Warner ended his 12-year NFL career completing 2,666 of 4,070 passes (65.5%) for 32,344 yards and 208 touchdowns. He has been selected twice for the All-Pro First Team and for four Pro Bowls. He was the NFL’s MVP in the 1999 and 2001 seasons.

His story of rags to riches culminated with his induction into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2017. And Rial along with his sons, Trevor and Logan, Kuemper’s junior and rookie respectively, attended the ceremony in Canton, Ohio. .

Knowing Warner’s incredible journey, starting with his frustration as a substitute quarterback at UNI, made this moment even more special, said Rial.

“He talked about going to play basketball at UNI. He was also very good at basketball, ”recalls Rial. “He was frustrated to sit on the bench and not have any opportunities, so he talked about basketball. He said he spoke to Eldon Miller, who was our head coach (of basketball), and Miller said, ‘Yeah, get out. I will play with you. I said, ‘Kurt, you’re really good at football. You have to wait your turn and you will have your opportunity. He said: ‘I’m tired of waiting my turn.’ And I said, ‘I know you are, but you’ll shine when you get the chance.’ So I’m glad he stuck it out.

Rial said he hoped the message Kuemper players got from “American Underdog” is “to never give up, hang on to your dreams and realize that success isn’t always easy. “. Be resilient in life, not just on the soccer field, but in all facets of life, be it in school, in your career, those things.

“The other thing is to embrace your faith. The things Kurt, Brenda and their family have gone through over the years would have been much more difficult without faith. So faith in God. It’s a special thing about Kurt. He always embraced his faith, always shared his faith, and he had a platform to do it. He carried a Bible with him throughout NFL Europe. He would do Bible studies.

The Warners have seven children, both of Brenda’s from her previous marriage and their five together.


Tim Rial (left), former Kurt Warner teammate at the University of Northern Iowa, and his wife Lisa (right) attend “American Underdog” at the Carroll 5 Theater with their children (left) Logan, Amber, Madison and Trevor. Tim and Lisa are friends with Warner from the University of Northern Iowa.

Today, Kurt is an NFL television and radio analyst. Brenda creates metal art and jewelry, which she sells online, and donates her profits to Treasure House, a residential facility the Warners have opened near their home in Scottsdale, Ariz., For adults. with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including their son Zach. The Warners also devote their efforts to a number of other charities.

Rial is the Investment Advisor’s Representative at Rial Financial Team in Carroll, and his wife, Lisa, is a stay-at-home mom. They have four children: Madison, a Kuemper graduate in 2017, who graduated from the University of Missouri with a Family Services degree last spring and is a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain) missionary. ; Amber, who is a 2020 Kuemper graduate and sophomore at Creighton University in Nursing; and Trevor and Logan.

Tim returned last season as a volunteer assistant coach at Kuemper, working with receivers and defensive backs. Previously, he coached six years at Kuemper, but for 17 years he coached local youth football, baseball and softball teams.

“It’s fun to share football at its purest level where people aren’t paid to play,” he said.

“It’s fun to be there again. There’s a lot of different things, run-pass-option offense, but football is football. It’s always about blocking, attacking, competing, facing and looking for opportunities, that sort of thing.

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