PETER SAGAL, Host:

And now the game where we invite on people who have done amazing things in order to do something completely unimportant. For years, Kurt Warner had the kind of career in professional sports that makes parents warn their kids away from professional sports. He went undrafted out of college and then after a few years playing in various leagues and as a backup for the St. Louis Rams, he gets his chance to play - and led his to the Super Bowl in one of the most legendary seasons for a quarterback ever.

Next week, Kurt Warner is coming back to St. Louis to celebrate the tenth anniversary of that miraculous year. He joins us now by phone. Kurt Warner, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

M: Hello, everybody. How are you doing?

SAGAL: So the story of your career is amazing, not so much for how it ended but for how it began. And I'd like to go over that just for a second. It's really like a Hollywood movie. Let me see if I got it right. You were a homeless, 7- foot-tall, young black man living on the streets of Memphis...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: ...when you were adopted by Sandra Bullock. Is that about right?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: You know, it's pretty close. Pretty close. You might be off on a few, small details, but pretty close.

SAGAL: So you went undrafted out of college. And as everybody knows, at one point you find yourself living in your - was it your parent's basement or your in-law's basement, and you were stamping cans at a grocery store.

M: That's exactly right. Trying to find myself a job, working nights at a grocery store, hoping that somehow, some way, I could fulfill my dream.

SAGAL: Eventually you got a job in arena football. You played arena football for a while. And then you were finally picked up - I think it was first the Packers and then the Rams. And you were with the Rams and what'd they do, they sent you to Europe to play football there.

M: Exactly. You know, when I finally got a chance to sign a contract in the NFL, the first stop was in Amsterdam. So I had to spend a few months in Amsterdam trying to earn my stripes so I could get an opportunity to play in the NFL.

SAGAL: Was it weird playing American football in the Netherlands? I mean, how can you possibly run wearing those wooden shoes, for example?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Well, you know, I'm not really fast anyways, so...

SAGAL: Yeah, well...

M: ...so it just brought everybody else down to my level ,that they had to run in wooden shoes.

SAGAL: Yeah.

M: You know, it was funny because there was people over there ringing cowbells and blowing whistles when we were on offense. And they really didn't understand the game, but it was a lot of fun trying to introduce them to American football.

SAGAL: OK, you go through all of that, all those years of disappointment and waiting and being a backup and finally, your day comes. They put the ball in your hand, you're the starting quarterback. Do you think you needed to go through all of that difficulty and doubt to be able to take charge the way you did when you were finally given the ball?

M: Yeah, I definitely don't think I would have done as well. And first of all, from a football standpoint, I really hadn't played much. I sat on the bench for four years in college. So it was really my proving ground...

SAGAL: All right, that's crazy.

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M: (Unintelligible).

M: It's really weird.

SAGAL: You didn't start in college. You couldn't get a job out of college. You were playing football in wooden shoes for guys who wouldn't let you pick up the ball.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: When you finally got the job, how did you know which direction to throw it?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: They yelled at me enough that I would be able to figure it out at some point.

SAGAL: I guess so. Wow.

M: Can I ask a question? What are you really bad at, no matter...

SAGAL: Yeah.

M: Tell me something you really can't do that - no matter how you try, you can't do it.

M: Oh, man.

M: Are you a bad golfer?

M: Do you want me to go hand the phone to my wife?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Is she there?

M: She's definitely around here somewhere, but I'm not sure I want to do that...

SAGAL: I understand.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I understand. That's a dangerous thing to do. You were named - and we love this - you were voted the best role model in the league by the other players, which is both a wonderful honor to you but also a little strange. Because our understanding, to the extent that we have one of the NFL, is it's a pretty tough culture. It can be brutal. These guys are going after each other. It's competitive. We know that trash talking is a big part of the game. You're a very religious man. You carry yourself in a certain way. Can you give us an example of how - did you do any like, very family-friendly trash talk?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You're like, goodness, I don't think you're going to do very well on the next play, sir.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

M: You know, I wasn't real good at that, as you can imagine.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: So, it really didn't have much intimidating effect when I tried to trash talk, so I kind of left that to my teammates. And, you know, I'd just walk back to the huddle and let them take care of that for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: There's a lot of curiosity about the huddle. When we had Joey Harrington, another quarterback, on the show, we asked him that in the huddle, you know, what are you actually talking about there. And he said, oh mainly, we'd just be like, oh wow, look at that girl over by the 50-yard line, she's cute.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Can you share any secrets from the huddle with us now?

M: Well, I wasn't looking at the girl on the 50-yard line, but I was looking at the blonde-haired lady that was in the front row.

SAGAL: Yeah.

M: And was pointing out how hot she was to all my teammates. But you know...

SAGAL: That was your wife, right?

M: That was definitely...

SAGAL: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I knew you were thinking that, but I wanted to get it said, you know, to save you trouble.

M: Yeah, exactly.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: As I said, you're a family man. You have seven kids. What kind of sports dad are you?

M: I'm very competitive with my kids. It doesn't matter what we're doing. My wife often, you know, gives me that look when we're playing video games or playing a card game because I definitely don't like to lose. And even if it's to my two, 4-year-old twins, that...

SAGAL: Oh, yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Well they're plotting behind your back, you know that.

M: Right. They are. They're trying, but I'm doing the exact same thing on the other side of the table. So...

SAGAL: All right, I'm going to give you a choice. You're retired, so I will ask you, would you rather be home with your seven kids, or would you rather be on the field with the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line trying to kill you?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Um, it depends on what's going on at home.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I understand, context related.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well, Kurt Warner, we're just delighted to be able to talk to you here in the city where you did so many great things. But we have also invited you here to play a game we're calling...

CARL KASELL, Host:

"That Tastes Like Carbonated Death."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: St. Louis, in addition to sports excellence, is known, of course, for beer. So we thought we'd ask you about soft drinks, the one drink to have when you don't have any beer.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Get two questions right, you'll win our prize for one our listeners, Carl's voice on their home answering machine. You ready to play?

M: You bet.

SAGAL: All right, Carl, who is Kurt Warner playing for?

KASELL: Kurt is playing for Liz Green of St. Louis.

SAGAL: All right.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Ready to play? Here's your first question. Some soft drinks make carbonated beverages - treats from rather surprising raw material. The Abali Company makes a soda from what? A, bacon; B, yogurt; C, antacid?

M: Oh, yum.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: I do know that bacon makes everything taste better.

SAGAL: It does.

M: But I'm going to throw out the answer yogurt.

SAGAL: You're right. Yogurt. Very good.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Next time you're thirsty, Abali Yogurt Soda comes in either original or mint, so you can enjoy that. The next question: Sometimes, foreign countries make sodas with English names. We think maybe their English is not that good. Exhibit A, the Japanese soda called either A, sweat ion water; B, happy happy blood drink...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...or C, sheep saliva wonder.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Oh, man.

M: Kurt, those were three plays you had with the Rams, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: I'm going to go with the sheep saliva wonder.

SAGAL: The sheep saliva wonder - a little picture of a dancing sheep on the bottle. No, actually, it was sweat ion water.

M: Oh, man.

SAGAL: We think it was some kind of sports drink. All right, this is very exciting. As seems to be your habit, it's come down to the final play.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: The man likes the drama.

M: At least this one's in my hands.

SAGAL: There you are. Here, without question, is the most unlikely soda we could find. Which of these flavors really at one point was drinkable in a carbonated form? A, toothpaste and orange juice; B, postage stamp glue...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: C, tofurky.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Tofurky is fake turkey made from tofu. Tofurky-flavored soda.

M: Oh, my goodness, man. Toothpaste and orange juice just do not mix. So that cannot be it.

SAGAL: Some people may like it. All right, no, no, scratch that one off. Good idea. Go on.

M: Man, I'm going to...

SAGAL: Would it help if I send some large men to try to knock you down? You do well under that kind of pressure.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: I do.

SAGAL: Yeah.

M: With a bunch of people screaming at me or something but...

SAGAL: Yeah. Yeah.

M: I'm going to go with the, I guess, tofreaky.

SAGAL: Tofurkey.

M: No, no, no.

SAGAL: No, Tofurkey is correct.

M: Oh, it is?

SAGAL: It is.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

M: Is this a special Thanksgiving...

SAGAL: It is. It's a special...

M: ...Thanksgiving...

SAGAL: The Jones Soda Company of New York makes a Thanksgiving flavor pack every year. And one year instead of the traditional turkey, they had tofurkey and gravy flavor.

M: Oh, yum.

SAGAL: That was great. You snuck that over the goal line yourself. Carl, how did Kurt Warner do on our show?

KASELL: Kurt had two correct answers, Peter, so he wins our prize for Liz Green. Congratulations, Kurt.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

M: Congratulations, Liz.

SAGAL: You can take the man out of football, but you can't keep him from winning. The last question, I got to ask, is this for real, or are you going to pull a Brett Favre on us all?

M: You can't imagine how many times I've been asked if I'm going to pull a Favre...

SAGAL: Yeah.

M: ...in the last few months. But this is definitely final, definitely with the mindset that I won't step on the football field anymore, at least in the NFL. And you know, we're going to go around and try some new challenges and do some new things.

M: He's going to go play football in Luxemburg next.

SAGAL: Yeah, we knew it. He's going to go back to Amsterdam and triumph.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Kurt Warner is a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player and Super Bowl champion as quarterback with the St. Louis Rams. On Thursday, he will be hosting "Night with Champions," celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Rams' Super Bowl win right here in St. Louis, Missouri. Kurt Warner, thank you so much for joining us today.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

M: All right, thanks a lot, appreciate it.

SAGAL: Thank you, sir.

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