Kurt Warner turned 34 a month before his first training camp with the Arizona Cardinals in 2005.
At the age when most quarterbacks are nearing the end, or moving to a role wearing a ballcap and headset on the sideline, Warner was just getting started on the second half of his storybook life in the NFL. It was a move that revitalized his career.
In a lot of ways, Orlando Pace is in the same position Warner was. Like Warner, he will turn 34 this season, his first in new surroundings. Pace was seeking a fresh start following a downward spiral in St. Louis that saw the Rams win just five games over the last two seasons. He's seeking a chance to be on a winning team again. They play different positions, they're vastly different personalities, but you can draw some parallels. Both have arguably put up Hall of Fame credentials. That's one.
Pace was formally introduced as the new Bears' left tackle on Wednesday afternoon at Halas Hall. Earlier in the day, we touched base with Warner on his thoughts on the man who protected his blind side for the Greatest Show on Turf.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ORLANDO PACE AS A PLAYER FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE PLAYING WITH HIM?
KW: Obviously, when I was with him he was as good as anybody in the game. It was one of those comfort zones for a quarterback where we just knew every week that we didn't have to worry about anybody on his side of the ball. I think that is a great compliment for any player, but particularly a lineman and a left tackle. When you don't have to worry about anyone that you're going to play all year long because you know he can handle them whether it is strength-wise, he's just big and strong, or whether is is athleticism, he could move at his size. You just didn't have to worry about any kind of player when he was over there. It was just a tremendous comfort zone for me as a quarterback to not have to worry about that and just play.
YOU REVITALIZED YOUR CAREER WITH A MOVE TO ARIZONA AND RETURNED TO BEING ONE OF THE ELITE PLAYERS IN THE LEAGUE. CAN A CHANGE OF SCENERY HELP A GUY LIKE ORLANDO WHERE HE IS AT IN HIS CAREER?
KW: I think sometimes. I think sometimes getting into a new place there is a freshness. Sometimes there is a challenge with getting out of what has been ``normalcy'' for so long, a comfort zone of going to the same place, working the same way, same coaches, same system, whatever it might be. When you go somewhere else you basically have to re-establish yourself in regards to your teammates, to your coaches, to the commitment they made to you as a free agent to say, `Hey, I'm worth what you gave me. I am going to be worth you taking a chance on me.' I think a lot of times that can be a good thing for a player where it can revitalize guys back to the point where they are out to prove something again and they take that mentality on instead of trying to stay status quo and play at the level they played at for a number of years.
HOLD ON. YOU'RE TELLING ME A TWO-TIME MVP LIKE YOURSELF OR A SEVEN-TIME PRO BOWL GUY LIKE ORLANDO HAS TO RE-ESTABLISH HIMSELF?
KW: I don't know if you have to. I think when you go to a place you automatically have respect. I am sure with coach Lovie [Smith] there knowing Orlando and knowing the kind of person he is and the player he is, I am sure he is not going to have to establish himself as far as convincing other guys, but what I am saying is sometimes your mentality as one of those elite players is, `OK, they said I was too old and they said I couldn't play anymore.' I want to prove to all of the guys that committed to me how good I can still be and show them that I can still be one of the elite and they didn't take a chance on a guy that is long in the tooth and can't play anymore. They took a chance on a guy that can still play at the top of his game and can help you win. I think that is the mentality that great players take instead of just saying, `Well, I've been to seven Pro Bowls and I've been there before and I don't have to prove anything to anybody.' I think the great ones have that edge to them that says, `Hey, there were people out there that said I couldn't do it. Now, I'm going to work my butt off to convince people that I can, and more importantly to show my new teammates and my new organization that they made the right move in picking me.' I hope that makes sense.