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WARNER SAGA COMES TO STIRRING FINALE

ATLANTA -- Let the bidding war for the rights to Kurt Warner's life story begin.

"What else can you say?" said St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil. "He is a book. He is a movie, this guy."

How could Warner's storybook season end any better?

He threw the winning 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce with 1:54 left to give the Rams a 23-16 victory.

He set a Super Bowl record for passing yards with 414, breaking the record of 357 held by arguably the greatest quarterback ever -- Joe Montana.

He won the Super Bowl MVP award.

"I don't ever think of my story as a Hollywood movie," Warner said. "It's just my life. I'm truly blessed."

By now, any football fan knows the Warner saga:

Plays one season at Division I-AA Northern Iowa; goes undrafted; gets cut by the Green Bay Packers; works for six months stocking shelves at Hy-Vee grocery store in Cedar Falls, Iowa; relegated to three years playing indoor Arena football; shipped off to NFL Europe to play in Amsterdam, where he has to walk past the red-light district to go to church every night; signed by the Rams; relegated to third-string last year; gets his chance to play a week before the start of this season when Trent Green blows his knee out; earns NFL MVP honors.

Then there's the romantic angle: marries a divorcee with two young sons, one of whom is blind because he was dropped on his head accidently as an infant by his biological father; suffers the pain of losing both his in-laws when they are killed by a tornado in 1996; he and his wife, Brenda, embrace fundamentalist Christianity.

"I've got to give the grace and glory to God," Warner said as he accepted the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy. "Thank you, Jesus."

Warner said even when he was stocking shelves for $5.50 an hour, he never gave up his dream of playing in the NFL.

"I always believed in myself, and I've got a whole bunch of people here who believed in me," Warner said. "It's because of these guys and the confidence they had in me that I'm standing up here today. I thank all the players and my family for believing in me.

"Don't ever lose sight of your goal," Warner said. "If you have faith and never give up, you can do it. With the Lord, all things are possible."

The Rams put Super Bowl XXXIV in Warner's hands Sunday.

They didn't try to establish a running game with Marshall Faulk.

Faulk rushed just five times in the first half, while Warner passed 35 times.

For the game, Warner hit 24 of 45 passes. He threw two TD strikes and did not throw any interceptions.

That was consistent with his play all season, when he threw 41 TD passes (third best in NFL history) and just 13 interceptions.

"He's an example of what we'd all like to be on and off the field," said Vermeil. "He is a great example of persistence and believing in himself and a deep faith. He has a willingness to accept coaching and criticism and is willing to work and play a subordinate role until he gets his opportunity."

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