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Kurt Warner on NFL return: It's time we say it's over

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Kurt Warner won't become the first Pro Football Hall of Famer to match hockey legend Mario Lemieux's feat of returning to game action following enshrinement.

The former Rams and Cardinals quarterback made waves Monday night when he joined the St. Louis Cardinals broadcasting booth for Kurt Warner Day at Busch Stadium.

Caught up in the moment, Warner revealed that he spoke to an NFL coach early this offseason about the possibility of coming out of retirement.

"My wife said, 'Go for it. I think it would be great,'" Warner offered. "So I actually talked to a coach about possibly doing it if they needed someone. Then they went out and signed somebody. I don't think they thought I was serious. So, I think we're completely done now."

Appearing on Tuesday's edition of NFL Up to the Minute, Warner expressed regret that he had provided grist for football's incessant rumor mill.

"It was simply, there were a lot of teams that were needy of a quarterback this offseason and didn't have anybody, didn't have a vet, were probably going to go with the young guy," Warner explained. "So I reached out to a coaching friend of mine. I was in good shape. I was throwing the football again. I said, 'you know what? I think I can give you one year if you need that. One-year bridge to the future. I'm your guy.'

"But as I said, I don't think he took me seriously. ... They went out and signed a quarterback. That was the end of that deal. We were talking about it a little last night. I should have known that it was going to blow up into a full-fledged, real-life story when there really wasn't that much to it."

This isn't the first time Warner has floated the idea of an NFL comeback. When injuries struck Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, Warner told The Dan Patrick Show early in 2015, he would have considered rejoining the Cardinals during the 2014 season.

A serious conversation never surfaced, however, which Warner acknowledged was for the best.

"My biggest concern was screwing it up," Warner conceded. "Even if expectations weren't high, they would've been for me. ... If I was the reason they lost, that would've been hard for me to handle."

Warner isn't breaking new ground here. There's a natural human tendency to rage against the dying of the light.

Just a few years ago, former NFL and USFL star Herschel Walker insisted he could still play at age 52. Nearly 20 years after he left the gridiron for the silver screen, Hall of Fame power back Jim Brown sported a Raiders jersey for a Sports Illustrated cover story on the fanciful notion of an age-47 comeback.

The rare confidence which enables a supreme athlete to erase reasonable doubts doesn't vanish after retirement. Seven years removed from his last NFL snap, former Bengals wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh firmly believes he could return as a No. 3 receiver with a few month's worth of work.

"Maybe I'm wrong," Houshmandzadeh told the Bengals' website last month, "but that's what I think and I believe it wholeheartedly. In my heart of hearts, I believe I can still play football."

Warner has authored one of the most unlikely, storybook careers in American professional sports history.

It should come as no surprise that he still has an itch in need of an occasional scratch.

"You never want to say never," Warner said Tuesday. "Obviously, the further you go into this thing, the older you get, you still have visions of grandeur in your head. But we're getting too far away from this thing. I do feel really good, and I was slinging it pretty good just a couple of months ago when I was training, but I think it's time we say this thing is over."

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