Scott McDermott/USA Network

Kurt Warner has experienced his fair share of highs and lows, but as the host of the new USA Network show The Moment knows, life is full of opportunities to try again.

Twists of fate, tests of faith, traumas, tragedies — Kurt Warner and his wife, Brenda, have been through more than a few.

“Life is filled with adversity,” says the former NFL quarterback. “And either you defeat it or it defeats you.”

Take the woman he wed, for instance. In their lives, both cursed and blessed, as he puts it, “Brenda and I have experienced extreme highs and lows.”
Before they met, she was a U.S. Marine with a husband and a baby boy. One day, her husband dropped the baby, resulting in blindness and brain damage. Brenda coped the best she could. She even became pregnant again. Late into her pregnancy, her husband met another woman and left her.

She came home to her parents, moved into their Iowa basement and stood in line for food stamps. She made up her mind to start anew and became a registered nurse. Her parents retired to Arkansas to a new home. Both were killed there in a tornado in 1996.

When Brenda met Kurt at a country-music club, he was quarterbacking at the University of Northern Iowa in tiny Cedar Falls. She liked him from the start, and her status as a divorced mother of two didn’t scare him off. But when Kurt went undrafted by all of the NFL teams following graduation, he refused to let the game go. He stocked groceries on a graveyard shift for $5.50 an hour and played football during the day for a Des Moines arena-league team. Brenda and Kurt married, and he adopted her two kids. But Brenda’s friends worried for her. As she said once in a TV interview: “I’d hear, ‘He’s slow, he’s old, why should he be holding onto this NFL dream of his?’ I didn’t even know what the NFL was. He tells me the Rams want him. I don’t even know what a Ram is.”

It was a chance. That was what Warner wanted: just one more try.

“You don’t want anybody to hand you anything on a plate,” he says, looking back. “You just want an opportunity.”