Thursday, April 11, 2013

USA Televisions The Moment: An Interview With NFL Great Kurt Warner

Over the years I have been infatuated with Dreams. I think because I have had to dream and gone after my own dre 
ams. After growing up in the streets, having at best a dysfunctional life, I realized that for myself there were dreams I had to obtain, they weren’t options, they were necessities. Finishing high school, going to college and ultimately being successful in the things I did, from working with bands to leading mental health agencies and now plowing ahead in ministry, with the poorest of the poor in America, all dreams I felt the need to go after.

Like many other parents I have found myself also dreaming for my family. There comes a point in time where one recognizes the possibilities and obstacles in obtaining their dreams. When family is involved, sacrifice is required, not just from the individual going for their dreams, but also those involved in life with that person. More times than not when others are involved, dreams are threaded together like a fine needlepoint tapestry. 

One person noted for accomplishing their dreams, for their perseverance is Kurt Warner. The former Northern Iowa Quarterback was given a second opportunity to play professional football while playing for the Arena Football League Team, The Iowa Barnstormers. He had been drafted as a free agent by the Green Bay Packers, didn’t make the team and went on to play for the Barnstorm 
ers while also working at the local Hy-Vee Grocery store sacking and carrying out groceries. The St. Louis Rams signed him and his story became what many consider one of the great stories in the history of sports. Kurt Warner went on to play for 3 NFL teams, winning the Super Bowl and being the Leagues MVP two times. He knows what it means to accomplish his dreams.

The USA Network recently started a new reality television program called The Moment. The series, hosted by Kurt Warner follows different individuals who for one reason or another, had given up on their dreams. The first episode of the season followed Robert Capita, a father and former sailor who had dreamed of becoming a professional Yacht Captain. Warner hooks him up with an America’s Cup legend and Capita begins training for 2 weeks. At the conclusion of his training, depending on how he has done, he may be offered an opportunity to captain an America’s Cup Yacht. Without giving the program away, it was exceptional at showing the reality and sacrifice of chasing ones dream. Many want to see their dreams come true but often don’t consider the sacrifice. 

I had the opportunity last week to speak to Kurt Warner about football, dreams and of course his new show.  The following is a transcript of that interview. 

Mike Furches (MF): Hey Kurt, it is an honor to speak to you, I played football in college plus your new project with The Moment is something that also hits home for me.

Kurt Warner (KW): Well thank you, I am excited about it.

MF: I left a career in mental health and music where I was doing quite well to go back into ministry and work with the homeless. I went from a pretty good salary down to $18,000 a year, asking them after coming on board to reduce it to $15,000 year because they couldn’t afford it. 

KW: Wow, that’s awesome.

MF: I used to coach and used to quote the Langston Hughes poem, Dreams. Don’t know if you know the poem or not?

KW: No, I don’t know it.

MF: Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken winged bird
That cannot fly.

Kurt, I appreciate your work with your new project. 

KW: Wow, thank you.

MF: Some of my friends knew I was going to be speaking to you and a few of my questions today are from them. One  is: What do you think of the current NFL rule changes and the way the game is played now as opposed to the way it was played 15 – 20 years ago?

KW: I’m a firm believer in the rule changes. For me the greatest commodity in football is the player. The only thing that is going to allow this game to thrive like it is right now is to continually find ways to protect the player. Even though we may change certain aspects of how the game is played now, it is important to make sure that we make health and safety first and foremost. I still think this is the greatest game and greatest team sport that there is. It’s going to thrive and continue to do well even with small rule changes like we’re making. It is also important that those rule changes start at a very young age and that we get back to teaching technique and make sure that we focus in on teaching things that will keep people safe from a very early age. We need to also see to it that we provide the knowledge of how to play the game with technique but also the knowledge of injuries, specifically head injuries. We need to make sure on what to do for coaches, players and parents, that they are knowledgeable about what to look for and what to see, what to do, what the protocol is when those things happen. I think this has to start at the earliest age and has to be continued through to the highest level of the NFL. We are making some good moves and good strides in the right direction. I am fully behind those decisions at whatever level as long as they have the players’ interest in mind which I believe they do. 

MF: Your faith has been discussed quite a bit in the public and you have been open about it. You also see players like Tim Tebow who has been outspoken about his faith. Sometimes we see mixed reactions of fans towards people like you and Tebow. You have some fans who love you, others who can’t stand you and are critical. Can you share your thoughts when a fan is critical of a player who shares their faith?

KW: It’s one of those things. People don’t understand it and it’s not the way they are. They are going to be the first ones to criticize in whatever way, shape or form. I think we see that with faith because it is such a dividing line. You either believe it, understand it and have it, or you don’t. It is one of those things where people have certain perspectives of Christians or people of faith. A lot of times, maybe they have had bad experiences with those individuals, may a wrong or a negative perception about those who are outspoken about their faith. When you’re in the public eye and you do what we do and you are outspoken about your faith, you have to understand that not everybody is going to agree with it. Not everyone is going to agree with what you believe in, not everybody is going to agree with how you practice or do it.  It is like we are in a firestorm, especially in this day and age with social media. You can’t allow that to deter you from who you are and what you believe. You have to stand firm and I think that is one reason so many people dump on Tim Tebow. He seems to be the same guy regardless of the situation, he wears his faith on his sleeve and I think you find people who believe in the same things and loves that he is a kind of hero in the faith to them. Then there are others who may not believe the same things but they appreciate his consistency and his stance and they can respect that, so they become a fan because of that.  Then like I said, there are other people who are just looking for something to criticize. Faith is definitely a lightening rod for that. 

MF: You played college ball at Northern Iowa, is that correct?

KW: Yes I did.

MF: What conference were you in.

KW: We bounced around a bit, we were in the Gateway Conference when I played, but I know the basketball is in the Missouri Valley. 

MF: Do you follow College Basketball at all?

KW: I don’t follow it a lot.

MF: I live in Wichita Kansas now and our cities team, Wichita State University from the Missouri Conference just completed their run at the Final 4. We have several players on our team that are quite noteworthy for going after their dreams. One player, Carl Hall takes his life into his hands every time he steps on the court due to a heart condition and two other players had to pay their way and tuition for the first year as walk-on’s in order to accomplish their dreams of playing for a team that had a chance at a national championship. I know your new television series deals with helping people accomplish their dreams.

KW: That’s really cool

MF: In regards to sports and in life, why is it important for people to go after their dreams?

KW: I believe that if your dream is rooted in being who God created you to be, and the gifts that God gave you, I don’t believe we become fully alive until we’re living in those things that we are passionate about. I don’t believe we become who God created us to be without living and becoming what he put inside of us. I think we see it everyday. The greatest impact of people is when they are sharing their passions with others. One can be passionate as a teacher, a president, a football player whatever it is, across the board. I believe that when we live in our passions it has tremendous impact it is clearly so genuine to people that it truly inspires and impacts them. I truly believe that kind of like your situation, regardless of the amount of money that you make, regardless of the struggles that you go through, regardless of the circle of influence that you have, when you live in your passions, you have the greatest opportunity to be who God created you to be and have the type of impact God created you to have. That’s why for me it is so important that we make sure that our passions and our dreams continue to stay alive. 

MF: It’s kind of like in the movie Chariots of Fire:

KW: Oh Yeah!

MF: It’s like the character of Eric Liddell says when he tells his sister that he feels closest to God when he is doing the things he believes God created him to do. He feels God’s pleasure when he runs and he knows he was created to run. 

KW: Exactly!

MF: Would you say that God has created each of us to be uniquely different with unique talents and it is only as we are doing those things that we find and experience the pleasure of living?

KW: I would totally agree.

MF: Can you tell us some about the television show The Moment?  

KW: It’s on the USA network starting April 11. The time it airs depends on the time zone you are in but you can check with your local cable or television listings for that. The premise of the show is on individuals who were chasing their dreams and somehow, life got in the way and threw them a curveball.  It took them down a path that was kind of out of their control and there was a decision or a choice they had to make that forced them to step away from their dreams. I come back in at a later date in their life present them with an opportunity to chase their dream again. For me, each episode is kind of like a mini Rocky movie. We show up, we let them know that this opportunity is ready and available for you, do you want to chase your dream? If they choose to go after their dream then we take them through the training, hooking them up with a mentor or a coach who trains them through the process. They push them to their limits and take them through different exercises and skills that they are going to need if they intend on winning their title fight. At the end of each episode they will have an audition or an interview ready for them in their field of expertise or experience, a great job with a great company in their field where they are going to have to convince them about what they have accomplished. They have to show and prove to themselves that they deserve a second chance. If they get the second chance then they get the job and it is up to them from there if they get the job on what they do with the job, where they go and how far they can go. One of the things I love so much about this show is that we’re not giving away a dream, we are simply giving away an opportunity for them to chase it again. What happens, how far they go and what they accomplish is truly up to them. I love that part of it because I think that is what life is. It presents us with opportunities all of the time, but what do we do with it? Are we prepared, will we chase after it?  Can we convince people that we deserve to be there? Are we willing to accept the sacrifices that it takes to be great?

That’s kind of the show in a nutshell. I am excited about it from that stand point. Very seldom are we giving anything away, or are we giving or getting anything for free. We’ve got to earn everything that we have. That’s what this show is. We provide the opportunity but it is up to you to see how far we can take it. 

MF: And you’ve lived that life? 

KW: Yeah, exactly! It has been up close and personal for me. I know about living it and going for it very well.

MF: Kurt thanks much.  I always enjoyed watching you play, your story, and the fact that you are open about your faith. 

KW:  Thank you Mike and take care.

As I finished my interview I had to admit, my initial thoughts was this was going to be another same ol same ol kind of show. I decided to watch it though and was I ever pleasantly surprised. We see a host of a show that knows about what the individuals on the show are going through. What I really liked though was the reality of this program that so many “reality” shows seems to so often miss. We see the struggle and the difficulty of one obtaining their dreams. We also see passion and in that passion because the show is so real, we are inspired and moved. It was a joy speaking with one who had themselves gone after and accomplished their dreams. Hopefully, and I believe it will, The Moment will inspire others to go after their own dreams when the opportunity presents itself. In a world where there seems to be a lost hope of dreams coming true, with The Moment, hope is rediscovered and we can all see that once again, dreams can become reality.   

To see the video opening of The Moment, Click the video below, if the video doesn't appear, click the link:

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