The University of Northern Iowa confirmed on Thursday that Kurt and Brenda Warner will be returning to Cedar Falls to serve as the VIPs of the UNI Homecoming Parade on Saturday, Oct. 8. The parade begins at 10 a.m. with a route in downtown Cedar Falls that will run from Ninth and Main streets to Second and Main streets. The Warners will also be special guests at the Our Tomorrow Celebration and Concert with Michael Cavanaugh on Oct. 7 from 5:30-9 p.m. at the Campanile Plaza.
Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, Warner was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV as he led the St. Louis Rams to their first Super Bowl title in his initial season as their starting quarterback in 1999. He would go on to lead the Rams to another Super Bowl appearance in 2001 and guided the Arizona Cardinals to their first-ever trip to the NFL’s Championship Game following the 2008 season. Warner was a two-time NFL MVP and was selected to four Pro Bowls.
“On behalf of the entire UNI community, we are honored that Kurt and Brenda are joining us for Homecoming and other festivities on campus next weekend,” UNI President Mark A. Nook said. “Their inspirational story of love and perseverance has such strong ties to the UNI campus and Cedar Falls. I know Panthers everywhere will welcome them back home with open arms.”
The Warners’ incredible saga was immortalized in the 2021 movie “American Underdog,” which chronicled Kurt’s circuitous rise from Gateway Conference Player of the Year at UNI to stocking shelves at Hy-Vee and being cut in training camp by the Green Bay Packers. The undrafted Warner eventually played for the Arena Football League’s Iowa Barnstormers and the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe.
An all-state product of Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, Kurt eventually signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Rams in 1998. He went on to post a total of 52 300-yard passing games during his NFL career. He is one of only three players in NFL history to start at quarterback in the Super Bowl for two different teams and one of only 17 undrafted players to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He currently serves as an analyst for NFL Network.
Football truly runs in the family for the Warners. Their son, Kade, currently serves as a wide receiver for Kansas State, playing for head coach Chris Klieman, who was also an all-conference football performer at UNI. Kade Warner is currently working on his master’s degree in academic advising from K-State. Another son, E.J., is a true freshman at Temple University in Philadelphia. Like his father, E.J. Warner is also a quarterback and wears No. 13 for the Owls.
If you aren’t in town to catch the Warners and the rest of the Homecoming Parade in person, check out UNI’s YouTube channel to watch the livestream. KWWL-TV Sports Director Rick Coleman and UNI Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations Leslie Prideaux will be emceeing the fanfare.
UNI alums Jim and Bonnie Raasch will be showcasing their Panther pride as Grand Marshals of the Homecoming Parade. Golf carts, floats and the Panther Marching Band will all be featured in the parade. Come armed with a tote bag for the candy and promotional items being passed out by parade participants.
For complete details on Homecoming events, check out the UNI Homecoming webpage.