Warner to be honored, Johnson and Williams play in NFL HoF game

CEDAR FALLS — During Wednesday’s UNI football media day, Panther head coach Mark Farley took some time to talk about one of the program’s most famous alumni earning the NFL’s top honor.

During today’s Hall of Fame Game, former UNI quarterback and Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner will be recognized as part of the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame class. Farley said Warner is the poster child for what Panthers football stands for and what they bring to the field every game.

“Kurt Warner represents everything about UNI perseverance,” Farley said. “The one thing he represents, and I’ve told him that his whole family represents this, they represent perseverance. To me, that’s the key to his success because he is that kind of character.”

While Warner is honored at halftime, two former UNI players will be showing out on the field for the Arizona Cardinals in running back David Johnson, who was recently ranked as the seventh-best player in the NFL last season by the NFL Network, and defensive lineman Xavier Williams. Farley said it is a rare treat to have so much representation of the program on display during the Hall of Fame Game.

“We may be the only program that has all three of those things happening on hall of fame week,” Farley said. “In the big picture, that’s pretty unique, and we should all be pretty proud of our university and what’s happened.”

What makes the Panthers program able to produce guys of that talent level, Farley said, is the community that surrounds UNI football on all sides.

“It is the community that people are drawn to in the end. That’s what makes a David Johnson, that’s what makes a Kurt Warner, the people are a part of that process. Small, but effective, and I think that is something we all can be proud of.”