You may know him as the "Cinderella" quarterback of the St. Louis Rams and a two-time winner of the NFL Most Valuable Player award. You may have heard about his incredible testimony, or his record of service to the community.  But did you know that Kurt Warner is also a cartoon character? Well, he is not an animated character, but in The Good Sports Gang, Warner lives in the cartoon town of Fairfield, doling out advice to a friendly talking football, a feisty soccer ball, a street-smart volleyball and others.

 

Developed in conjunction with Back Home Studios, the Good Sports Gang videos are designed to promote faith, self-esteem, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior within a sports context that appeals to today's active children.

In the very first episode, "Coach" Warner and his lively gang of bouncing balls help a kid named Elliot, who feels like a loser, learn what it takes to live like a champ.

 

"Each program begins with a mission," Warner explains. "Through video magic, my character notifies the Good Sports that their help is needed in Fairfield. We develop a game plan together, and I send them on their way. Of course, like any good coach, I keep in constant touch with the team and guide and motivate them in their task. Appearing in a cartoon is definitely a new role for me, but one I'm really excited and proud to talk about."

In Nashville recently for Gospel Music Association (GMA) Week, Warner took time out of a busy morning to share with Crosswalk.com's Faith editor, Janet Chismar, his passion and vision for the Good Sports Gang project.

 

Crosswalk.com: What was it that appealed to you about doing an animated series?

 

Kurt Warner:  Well, I think the first thing is that we are always looking for things we can do to use our platform to really influence lives. And the younger kids who like animation, it's hard to get an opportunity to reach them-to talk to them in a small setting where you can really communicate with them.

 

So we figured that an animated video would be a great opportunity to do that-to really share our message, to really get involved where they could see who we were, know who we were, and kind of tie it all in with something they would enjoy and have fun with.

 

And I think that's why we jumped at the opportunity to do this. We felt that we could hit a niche that is really hard to approach, you know, the 4-7 year olds. It's tough to get in and influence those types of kids, so this was a great opportunity to do that.

 

Crosswalk.com: Did you have any input into creating the characters?

 

Kurt Warner:  You know, a lot of the characters were already developed. There was always input though, that I had with different things - whether it was the way they looked, or their characters, or how we wanted to develop story lines to a degree - so I had input on all of that. But when the creators approached me, they had some ideas already in place and we just had to fine tune it from there.

 

Crosswalk.com: Do you have a favorite character? Is Quebee (the football) your favorite?

 

Kurt Warner: In the first video, Quebee's kind of the center of attention and so I think you kind of fall in love with him first. You get to see him more and he deals with Elliot (the little boy) the most in the first one, so you kind of get a better sense of him than you do any of the other characters. But as we go down the road with other videos, all the characters will become a little more prominent, and we'll get to know them and they all have something a little bit different and a little bit special that the kids will like.

 

Crosswalk.com: Were you ever "an Elliot" at any time in your life?

 

Kurt Warner (Laughing):  Not in regards to sports, but I think we've all been "Elliott" in some area of our lives. When I was in school, I always had a brother who was really smart, who didn't have to pick up a book and could always succeed in the classroom. But I couldn't do that. I'd work hard and then I'd just be average. I could never get to the level that he was, and so I was kind of a guy who was like, "Well, you're never going to be brilliant. You're never going to be a genius. You're never going to be an "A" student."

 

So, yes, I had a lot of situations where I didn't really fit into a certain area. There were other areas I did, certain areas that I didn't, and I always kind of felt like the odd man out and that I didn't belong. I think everybody goes through it at some time. You want to do something, but you're just not cut out to do that particular thing.

 

Crosswalk.com:  Did your daughter Jesse have fun filming the video? Is she going to be in each one?

 

Kurt Warner:  Yeah. We're hoping to get all our family involved, you know, possibly do a video for younger kids too, where we use our younger kids and my wife. But Jesse had a great time. She's extremely talented and I think she really enjoys doing that and she's looking forward to doing more in the future. But we'll see-we may develop a character or have her do a voice for one of the characters. She can sing, so we may get her on the track to sing a little bit. Everybody who did the video fell in love with her and how well she picked things up and she'll just get better at it.

 

When you get a chance to do a project like this, it takes some time, but when you get to do it with your daughter and she gets to see the rewards at such a young age, it is really neat. And I think having Jesse [describing how animation works] in it helps it to appeal to older kids too. Although the animation is more designed for the younger kids, the older kids can enjoy it- when you get something like that involved, behind the scenes. Having Jesse (who is 10) involved will help people see, "Hey, this just isn't for 4 and 5 year olds; this can go up to 11, 12, 13 year olds."

 

Crosswalk.com (to Brenda, Kurt's wife) - What's your involvement with the Good Sports Gang project?

 

Brenda Warner:  Well, in the first video, my involvement was basically watching the kids while Kurt went to work. I wasn't too involved in the first part of it, other than reading the script and feeling like this would be a good script and making small changes that I felt we might need-just my opinion in some of them. But then we have bigger ideas on what's ahead. I hope to do a different video with our smaller kids and maybe use the mother aspect, and I'll have a bigger part in that.

 

Crosswalk.com (to Kurt) - Will each video have a God's playbook segment?

 

Kurt Warner:  The Coach's Corner? Yes, definitely. That was something that we kind of brought to the table and we thought would be a neat opportunity to go beyond the animation and the story lines to really talk about-even if it's a couple of minutes and it's simplified-what God's Word says about a certain issue. It really was the most important thing out of the whole video.

 

You get the chance to kind of hit home right at the end in two or three minutes with one of the characters. That's one of our favorite parts, because that's really what shares the deeper message of the whole video. And hopefully seeing that last, that's what they'll take from it and say, "Hey, it says this in the Bible and this is what God feels about me."

 

Learn more about the Good Sports Gang by visiting www.goodsportsgang.com.  A portion of the project's proceeds will benefit Kurt Warner's  First Things First Foundation.