Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has acquired the life rights to develop a feature based on the life of Kurt Warner, who went from stocking shelves at a grocery store for $5.50 an hour to become one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. The film will be produced by Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, and part of the rights package will include Warner’s autobiography All Things Possible: My Story Of Faith, Football And The Miracle Season. Warner’s about the closest thing you’ll find to being the antithesis of scandal-scarred jocks like Lance Armstrong or A-Rod. His single-season stats stack up favorably to football’s great passers, but what distinguishes Warner — and makes for a strong, feel-good underdog story — is how much adversity and futility he had to overcame before getting a chance. He’s like Rudy, if that Notre Dame practice player had a cannon arm.

Warner, considered to be the best undrafted player ever, won two NFL MVP Awards and quarterbacked the St. Louis Rams to two Super Bowl appearances (winning one), and he would later lead the Arizona Cardinals to another Super Bowl appearance. It took him years to even get the league to notice him. Playing college ball for Northern Iowa, Warner was skipped over in the draft and then cut by the Green Bay Packers as an unheralded free agent who became odd man out competing against Brett Favre, vet Mark Brunell and Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer. After stints stocking shelves and then returning to school as a grad assistant to support his family, Warner got a shot in Arena Football and made the most of it, lighting up the league over two seasons. His next NFL chance was supposed to come when a tryout was extended by the Chicago Bears, but a spider bite on his throwing elbow nixed his chance. That chance came when the St. Louis Rams signed him in 1998, only to send him to Europe to play, and then let him rot on the bench. The following season, when first-string passer Trent Green got injured in preseason, Warner took over and put on an aerial display that shocked the league and even his own coaches. He became the first player to throw three TD passes in each of his first three games, finished the season with 41 and winning league MVP. He then led the Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV, winning Super Bowl MVP honors. Warner retired in 2010.

Said Warner: “For so long people have told me my life story would make a great movie. I am humbled and thrilled to have found a team as excited as I am to make that happen.”

Godfrey said the deal came after a long pursuit. “I’ve been chasing Kurt’s story for three years…or in many ways, ever since I first saw him play in his third game as a Ram,” Godfrey said. “I remember the sportscasters talking about how he had popped on the scene and thinking, that’s a great underdog story. Little did I realize he’d be wearing a Super Bowl ring and holding up the MVP trophy at the end of the season. Marty and I wouldn’t be more thrilled to be working with Kurt and Brenda to bring their inspirational story to the screen.”

Warner’s rights deal was made by Julie Magrane, Priority Sports & Entertainment and Jody Hotchkiss of Hotchkiss And Associates.