Warner has handled everything thrown at him since arriving in New York with the utmost amount of class, including his recent demotion. It's clear for all to see that Warner was basically set up to fail, with the Giants knowingly wanting top pick Eli Manning in the lineup sooner rather than later. Warner definitely had his warts on the field, and certainly didn't remind anyone of his MVP days, but he was not the sole reason the Giants stumbled after a 5-2 start that he helped lead them to. Warner stood tough in the pocket, as usual, answering all TGI's questions in New York's locker room last week.
Q: Can you believe this happened to you?
A: I don't think anything's out of the realm. To see things that have happened in the past. I never go into any situation thinking anything but anything could happen. You never like to have things transpire like this, in relation to your situation or in relation to your life. But it's part of it. My life is so much bigger than football. There's so much more to me. There are so many things that are more important that I'm not going to allow one situation - the football situation - dictate how I live, or how I come to work every day or the attitude I have when I come home. As difficult as it is and as frustrating as it is, basically having to go through similar situations two years in a row, there's so much more that drives me, and so much more in my focus.
Q: When you got home after the Arizona game, how confident were you that you'd keep your job?
A: I felt good. I feel like I've played consistently well all year. There have been circumstances that haven't gone as well as others, like the Chicago game. I think the thing you look at is that we're out there battling as a team. Teams win and teams lose. Unfortunately, the quarterback is a position that sometimes takes too much credit and also too much blame. It's one of those positions where teams change a guy there even if it's not necessarily pointed at that one guy in particular. When I got home, it honestly never even crossed my mind. I was never really worried that I was going to lose the job or that I had not played well enough to be the starting quarterback. But talking to Coach Coughlin, I understand that there are a lot of factors there. Those are the things that are out of my control. That's where you have to be able to deal with it and understand the whole situation. But that doesn't make it any easier. It doesn't cause you to be less frustrated or less disappointed, but at the same time, you have to be able to see it. If not, it could drag you down and affect you on a daily basis and affect everything that I do. That's not what I'm about and not what I'm going to worry about. This is where God has me right now and I look forward to seeing what He wants to do and how He wants to use me now.
Q: Do you feel like you're being used as a scapegoat here?
A: No, I don't think so. I don't look at it from that perspective. I think we all understand that this is about a team; this isn't about individuals. Even though maybe one guy is changed out, this isn't about that. There are other reasons and factors why the move was made and you just have to deal with that.
Q: What did Coach Coughlin tell you when you guys talked?
A: He told me to keep it succinct and to allow him to explain himself. He said he felt this was a decision he had to make for the Giants organization. Obviously there are bigger factors and bigger picture things that you can read into that. That was just what he felt he needed to do. We didn't go into great detail. I didn't sit up there and try to debate with him or do any of that stuff. Really when he told me, I understood what he was saying and I have to accept it.
Q: How do you help Eli make this transition?
A: I don't know what the role is. I have to continue to be positive, continue to give him feedback, continue to encourage him. Being there on the sideline is one of the biggest things I can do. To talk to him between series and be the guy that's there helping him on the field. There are things that I can bring to the fold when we're on the football field. Hopefully he'll be able to benefit from me in those areas. The biggest thing is just to continue to encourage him to stay up. I don't want this whole situation or me to become a distraction to him. I need to keep the focus on him preparing to play and win games for the Giants.
Q: After you've been blitzed out of your mind, now Eli is going to have to deal with it. What can he do in those situations?
A: As much as you ask what can Eli do, this team is what has to stop that. We have to block it when people do it. The receivers have to get open; the quarterback has to make the throw. We have to work together as a unit. It's more important when teams are blitzing because in some of these one-on-one situations, if everybody does their part, you'll get shots to break a game open and take teams out of the blitz. But that's something we have not handled well as an offense the last few weeks and it's really hurt us. You know everyone's looking at film and seeing that it's hurt us so we have to get better with that.
Q: Now you're the proverbial one play away from getting into the game, right?
A: That's the hardest part of the whole thing. You're not in as competitive a situation in practice every day. You're not doing that part of it, and that's the hardest part to me. You're not showing up every day with the same type of excitement about this game and about playing the game. That's what I love, the competitive part. I like to challenge myself to be perfect. It's a whole different dynamic when you're reading a card. That part of it gets taken out of it. Then not playing Sundays takes even more out of it, because that's why we play the game. You know you're always one play away, you know all that stuff. But it's still such a different mentality, a different focus. Everyone comes in and says 'I prepare like I'm going to start,' but you just can't. It's not the same. When you're not in there getting reps, it's not the same. You try to be as ready as you could possibly be in that position, but it's not the same. It's a different situation and it's more difficult.
Q: How much pressure is there on Eli?
A: There is pressure, but on the other side of it, we haven't played very well the last few weeks, especially offensively. Hopefully some of that stuff takes the pressure off him. The bar has definitely been dropped down because of how we've played. But he can't worry about the pressure, and what the media says. He has to play the game the way he can play it. We're not asking you to save the world; we're not asking you to turn us into the top offense in the league. We're just asking you to play the game the way we know you can. If he does that - and so do the 10 other guys on offense, like they did earlier in the year - we're going to be successful. This isn't about Eli, it's about an offensive team coming together and meshing and playing at a higher level than we have.
Q: Do you think the whole situation ever undercut your ability to be a leader?
A: Nope. Never. Never. I don't think it was even an issue. When I was named the starter this whole team embraced me as the leader of the offense. I don't think it was ever an issue, I don't think anybody was ever looking over their shoulder. I don't think anyone even expected this decision at this point in time. Of course, everyone knew down the road that Eli was eventually going to be the guy. But I don't think that jeopardized my situation at all.
A Conversation with QB Kurt Warner
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