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Kurt Warner's approach hasn't changed from his playing days

Kurt Warner says he always likes to challenge himself. These days, that has him spending the bulk of the week using airplanes as his office.

In addition to his duties as an analyst on NFL Network's NFL GameDay Morning on Sundays and working on Westwood One's radio broadcasts for Monday Night Football, Warner also will spend the next two Saturdays joining Mike Tirico and Pete Schrager calling the Cleveland Browns-Denver Broncos (Saturday) and Baltimore Ravens-Los Angeles Chargers (Dec. 21) games for telecasts that air exclusively on NFL Network.

Consider his schedule:

Last Sunday: Work NFL GameDay Morning in Los Angeles and then fly home to Phoenix to be with his family on Sunday night.

Monday: Fly to Seattle for the Minnesota-Seattle game.

Tuesday: Take a morning flight back to Phoenix.

Thursday: Fly to Denver to prepare for Saturday's telecast.

Saturday: After the game, fly to Los Angeles for Sunday's four-hour pregame show.

Sunday: Fly back to Phoenix after the show. "I'll always try to be with the family as much as I can," Warner said.

Monday: Take a cross-country flight to Charlotte for the New Orleans Saints-Carolina Panthers.

It is a quite an exhausting whirlwind, but Warner wouldn't have it any other way. It means he is around football 24/7. He never has forgotten his humble beginnings as a one-time Arena League quarterback struggling to get a shot to play in the NFL. Warner's unlikely journey eventually led to his induction in the NFL Hall of Fame in 2017.

"To me, the greatest part of this is that I was one of those guys who wasn't supposed to be here," Warner said. "I feel so fortunate and blessed to have these opportunities. There's so much stuff around the game that I love and feel so passionate about."

Indeed, it was natural for Warner to make the transition to being an NFL analyst after he played his last game in 2010.

"I remember thinking, 'Oh my gosh, what am I going to do during the next 40 years? I don't know if I'm going at anything else,'" Warner said. "But I'm a competitor and I thought, 'What else can I try?' I was fortunate to get the chance to work for NFL Network."

Warner loves working with his NFL GameDay Morning teammates: Rich Eisen, Steve Mariucci, and Michael Irvin. The crew's chemistry comes through during the show. Warner likes that they produce solid football insights along with many laughs along the way.

"When you watch us, you feel like you're hanging with a bunch of guys in a living room who are talking football and having a good time," Warner said.

That include participating in the skits the producers have him do on the show. One of this year's bits saw Warner, Mariucci and Irvin wearing big bearskin caps while portraying Buckingham Palace guards.

"I've learned the key is to go all in," Warner said. "People appreciate when you don't take yourselves too seriously. It's a four-hour show. You have to bring some levity and personality."

While Warner enjoys his studio work, there still is nothing for him like being at a game. That is why he signed on this year to work with Kevin Harlan as a full-time analyst for Westwood One's broadcasts of Monday night games. He also will be Westwood One's lead analyst during the playoffs and on the Super Bowl.

"I love being on the field before the game, talking to the players, taking in the atmosphere and the energy of the fans," Warner said. "I love the story of the Xs and Os. On radio, I'm sharing what I'm seeing and how I view the game."

Warner now will do the same thing during the next two Saturday telecasts on NFL Network. Adding the additional games makes his schedule highly compressed. He tries to make the most of his time on planes to get in all of his work.

Ultimately, though, more is better when it comes to being around football. Warner says his approach hasn't changed since his days as a player. It still is all about preparation and striving to be the best.

"My mindset is that you work hard and try to be ready for anything," Warner said. "When you get that opportunity, you never let it go. How you do that is by setting yourself apart. You seek to be better than anyone else. In football, I wanted to be the best. It's the same in broadcasting. I want to leave a mark outside the lines very much like I did inside the lines."

A Football Life: Thurman Thomas is the latest subject of A Football Life Friday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. The one-hour film explores the career of the Buffalo Bills' Hall of Fame running back.

"He had every phase of the game down to a T. Thurman Thomas could do it all," said Jim Kelly in the film.

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