TAMPA, Fla. – Kurt Warner's legacy was a hot topic of debate during Super Bowl week, specifically whether the two-time NFL MVP has to win Sunday to ensure himself a spot in the Hall of Fame.
As far as Arizona defensive end Bertrand Berry is concerned, he should be a surefire pick — win or lose.
"I told him after the NFC championship game that I just want a ticket to Canton, Ohio when he gets in. I think he's a Hall of Famer," the 12th-year pro said.
"When you think about what he's done in his career, and what he's accomplished in his career, to think that there is even a question about whether he'll be a Hall of Famer or not to me is ridiculous."
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Warner, who shrugged off such questions, is playing in his third Super Bowl. He was 1-1 in two appearances with the St. Louis Rams.
"The great thing about `the talk of your legacy' is that it's talk for everybody else," Warner said.
"Whatever that legacy is at the end of the day, it is. My approach is hoping that every player who I've played with, every place that I've been, in some way, shape or form, I leave my stamp on those people and on those places. That's what I want my legacy to be."
YOU CAN GET ONE, TOO: Some of the Steelers who have already won Super Bowl rings put them on over the past two weeks to encourage players on the team who don't have one.
"I think that is one example of the way our team motivates one another," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "I have an accountability group, We have great leadership. They apply pressure to one another to deliver, and that is just one of the many ways they do it."
ADVANTAGE CARDINALS?: The Cardinals can hope this is a preview of Sunday's result: Arizona guard Reggie Wells outdrove Pittsburgh linebacker LaMarr Woodley in a long drive contest, with event sponsor Top-Flite donating $10,000 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation on the winner's behalf.
Wells' top drive was 187 yards. Woodley's best effort was 127 yards.
"Anytime you get a victory it's good. Let's hope the success continues on Sunday," Wells said. "When I saw LaMarr swing, I knew I had a chance."
Woodley was a gracious loser.
"It was a lot fun. You always want to beat the competition," Woodley said. "I still have another shot on Sunday to show him what I got, but he has the bragging rights, for now,"
PICKING UP THE TAB: Warner and wife, Brenda, have a family tradition of picking up the check for another table whenever they eat out. The Arizona quarterback didn't let team allegiances get in the way.
While dining Friday night at The Cheesecake Factory in Tampa, the Warners selected a group of 20 Pittsburgh Steelers fans and paid for their meal. Warner's Arizona Cardinals play the Steelers for the Super Bowl title on Sunday.
"We started doing that when we were in St. Louis and the manager would always give us our meal for free whenever we ate out," Brenda Warner said earlier Friday. "I had been a single mother living on food stamps at one time who couldn't ever afford to eat out, and I never understood why people give free meals to people who can afford them."
The Warners started a tradition of allowing their seven children to pick one family in the restaurant, and they try to quietly pay that table's tab before slipping out the door.
"It's gotten to be part of a game with the kids," Brenda Warner said. "They'll say `Oh, that family has a lot of kids, dinner must be expensive.' Or `They look old, maybe it's hard for them to afford eating out a lot.' We try to be discreet about it, because we don't want people trying to get picked."
For anyone curious, Warner had the Old Fashioned Burger (with bacon) and a lemonade, while Brenda Warner had the Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp.
HOW THEY SEE IT: Everyone seems to have an opinion on who's going to win Sunday's game, including three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who were among the backstretch personnel weighing in on the topic at Santa Anita.
Baffert, an Arizona native, would like to see the Cardinals win, but believes "Pittsburgh's stronger." Trainer Bobby Frankel feels it'll be a blowout in favor of Pittsburgh because of the Steelers' defense, while trainers Eoin Harty and Dan Hendricks pick Arizona.
Jockey Alex Solis said he'd take the opposite of whatever Smith picks. So what is Smith, who won the 2005 Kentucky Derby aboard 50-1 long shot Giacomo, thinking?
LUCKY STOP: Cardinals receiver and former University of Pittsburgh star Larry Fitzgerald grew up in Minneapolis as a fan of Penn State and the Big Ten. He never gave much consideration to staying home to play at Minnesota because the Gophers were not very good at the time. So Penn State seemed like a good fit, especially with him being a linebacker in high school, too, and the Nittany Lions have a strong tradition at the position.
Fitzgerald was on his way to visit State College, Pa., when a bad rainstorm forced an overnight stay in Pittsburgh. The unscheduled stop led to him signing at Pitt.
"My high school coach told me that Tony Dorsett and Dan Marino and Mike Ditka went there and that there were a lot of great players who went there," Fitzgerald said. "So, we went over to their facility and their coaches didn't know we were coming. I met the coaches, and we gave them my tape, and that was how the relationship was started."
I'M READY: Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, an AFC Pro Bowl alternate and one of the reasons Pittsburgh ranked No. 1 in total defense, may be one of the league's most underrated defenders. Although his name rarely is included in discussions about the best players at his position, he flourished this season while covering a number of top receivers, including Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne.
He expects another stern test from the Cardinals, who have three 1,000-yard receivers.
"I'm sure they are going to come at me. They come at me every game, Taylor said. "Every game they take shots in my direction. Only the strong survive, and that's the mentality you have to have as a corner."