After practice Thursday, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz reminisced about one of his greatest proteges, quarterback Kurt Warner.
During the offseason, Martz was interviewed for the NFL Network special, "Kurt Warner: A Football Life," which debuts tonight at 9 p.m. CST.
"The one thing I know about Kurt is, he will always surprise you," Martz said in the special.
I've talked to Warner on a number of occasions, often about Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. He's talked about how demanding Martz is but how rewarding his football knowledge is.
Martz is a lightning rod figure here in Chicago, given the struggles of the Bears offense.
But each of his key former players I've talked to vouch for his "genius" reputation.
For instance, receiver Torry Holt said Martz's offense works -- but at a price, usually to the quarterback.
"I've seen quarterbacks get beat up," Holt told me. "I've played in this system.
"That's a concern in itself," Holt said, referring to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. "Can it be fixed? Yes. Who will fix it? Hopefully them -- and soon."
As for Warner, Holt said Warner immediately had teammates buzzing in 1998, the year before he replaced injured veteran Trent Green and engineered a Super Bowl championship season.
Either Az-Zahir Hakim or Ricky Proehl told Holt, "This dude can throw right here.
"And I saw him slinging the ball around. Then Trent went down, and he had to go with the ones, so he had to be able to step in. We had times, when the ball didn't touch the ground."
Warner's story is a remarkable one, since he wasn't drafted and he took a circuitous route to the Rams, one that famously included a stint working at a grocery store.
"It's outstanding," Holt said of Warner's personal journey. "It gives you hope. You have to believe in yourself, and when you have an opportunity, you have to be ready.
"What if he wasn't ready? Shoot, we wouldn't even be talking about Kurt Warner. But he was ready for the moment, and he was prepared, and he had a great group of guys around him. When it boils down to it, he stepped up to the plate and knocked it out."
But Warner is 40 years old, which prompted a quip from Holt.
"It's happening so fast, and at such a young age," Holt said. "But it's a good time for him, because he's young, and he's still moving around."
To view the trailer for the documentary, click here