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First Things First: The Rules of Being a Warner

First Things First: The Rules of Being a Warner

3.6 25
by Brenda Warner, Kurt Warner, Jennifer Schuchmann (With)

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Kurt Warner is the two-time NFL MVP–winning quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals. Brenda Warner is an ex-Marine turned stay-at-home Mom who collects coats for low-income kids and rocks babies to sleep at a center for chronically ill infants. Together they’re the parents of seven children, going into their thirteenth year of marriage. Their formula for


Kurt Warner is the two-time NFL MVP–winning quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals. Brenda Warner is an ex-Marine turned stay-at-home Mom who collects coats for low-income kids and rocks babies to sleep at a center for chronically ill infants. Together they’re the parents of seven children, going into their thirteenth year of marriage. Their formula for success? They put First Things First—faith, family, and giving to others—it’s their family motto, and it drives everything they do. First Things First is an honest, entertaining, and insightful look at life inside the Warner house. Kurt and Brenda speak candidly about their marriage, the values they’re working to instill in their kids, things they’ve done right, mistakes they’ve made, the importance of giving back, and the legacy they hope to leave behind. Kurt Warner fans will enjoy this behind-the-scenes look into the Warner family daily life. Includes 16 pages of color photos.

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Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date:
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8.98(w) x 11.08(h) x 0.86(d)

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first things first

By Kurt Warner Brenda Warner JENNIFER SCHUCHMANN

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Kurt and Brenda Warner
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-3406-6

Chapter One

football Warner style

{KURT} Stupid! You're so stupid! You just lost your team the Super Bowl!

With less than eighteen seconds remaining in the second quarter, I'd just thrown the pass that I thought would give us the lead in Super Bowl XLIII. But as soon as the ball left my hand, my stomach hit the ground. Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison emerged from behind the helmets. I watched in horror as the ball hit him right between the numbers.

Screened by a blitzing player and my offensive linemen, I hadn't seen Harrison in the passing lane. What I thought would be a Cardinals touchdown turned into a mad scramble to stop Harrison from scoring at the other end of the field. I did my best to slow him down enough for one of my teammates to tackle him, but as I lay on the turf watching him weave down the field, all I could think of was how stupid I was. Harrison scored the touchdown that gave the Steelers a ten-point halftime lead.

Even at moments like that, I love my job. When I'm on the field, my mind is totally focused there. I don't scan the stands looking for celebrities in attendance. I don't notice the jeers being hurled at me from opposing fans. I don'tsmile at my kids or wave to my wife during the game. When I'm on the field, I'm locked in. Even after a play like the interception by James Harrison, I was laser focused on finding an opportunity to make up for my mistake.

In the fourth quarter, I got that opportunity. Down 20-7, we knew if we wanted to make a comeback, we would have to open up our offense and throw the ball. For as long as I can remember, those are the times when I've been the most comfortable on the football field-with the ball in my hands, taking charge and dictating the tempo of the game.

Our offense had started clicking in the second half. We had scored once and had gotten a safety, forcing the Steelers up against the ropes. With three minutes remaining in the game, we were down by just four points. We had the ball and the momentum. Now was our chance.

We stayed in the spread offense. My plan was to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald or Anquan Boldin, placing our fate in the hands of two of our best players and allowing them to make plays. The Steelers knew they were having trouble stopping us and had chosen to play a two-man coverage. So, against the league's best defense and one of the most difficult coverages to throw against, I called my favorite play to attack them.

As I took the snap and scanned the field, I knew the odds were good that Larry or Anquan would be open. My first read on the play was to Larry, and I saw that he had gotten a great jump at the snap and had separated from his defender. He caught the ball in the open field and ran sixty-four yards into the end zone.

With 2:37 left to go in the Super Bowl, we had just taken the lead. It was the first time I allowed myself to think, We just might be the World Champions!

Of course, we all know what happened. The Steelers came back with less than a minute on the clock, preventing us from achieving the first Cardinals championship in franchise history.

After eleven years in the NFL, I think I finally have the proper perspective on winning and losing. Losing still stinks. But what happens on the field-whether it's the highest of highs or the lowest of lows-doesn't define me as a person.

Most people think that the stories I'll tell after a Super Bowl will be like the one above-a game-changing moment of threading a great pass through a field of defensive players to the waiting hands of my receiver. Others have seen enough media coverage about me to assume I'll tell stories about how I prayed to Jesus for our team to win. Nothing could be further from the truth. The stories I tell the most are not necessarily exciting to reporters, but I think they're more important.

After my Super Bowl win with the Rams in 1999, my favorite story to tell was one about my kids. I had three kids at the time, and none of them came to the big game. They thought football was "boring."

When the game was over, I couldn't wait to call them. I was in the locker room with my agent, Rob Lefko, who wanted to prep me for a press conference the next day. I had been named Most Valuable Player, and there would be a lot of media attention. I asked him to wait a minute while I called home to talk to my kids.

The phone rang a couple of times before Zack, my oldest, who was nine at the time, answered the phone. Here's what the conversation sounded like from Rob's perspective:

"Hey, buddy! Daddy just won the Super Bowl.... Uh huh ... Did you watch any of the game? ... Uh huh ... Okay ..." And then before I could say, "I love you ...," he was gone.

I turned to Rob and said, "Zack wasn't interested. He was watching Veggie Tales."

The point of the story isn't that my kids do funny stuff; it's that my children remind me that football isn't the most important thing in our world. And I love that! I love that my kids aren't preoccupied with my football career. Ten years later, three kids has turned into seven, but not much has changed about their attitude toward football.

Zack's now nineteen. He is in his fifth year of high school, and he is learning how to live independently. He's legally blind, but after watching him get around, you would never know it. Brenda will tell you more about Zack when she tells you her story.

Jesse is seventeen. I met her when she was nine months old, and we didn't exactly hit it off. But now she's heading off to college and I can't imagine life without her.

Kade is ten. He's our big boy. He plays Pop Warner football, but he doesn't like it much. Brenda once caught me in the backyard trying to pay him a quarter for each pass he caught, but she put a stop to that.

Jada just turned eight. She's our little fashionista, and she's a vegetarian. I'm not sure if she's a vegetarian because she cares so much about animals or because she doesn't like her mother's cooking.

Elijah is five. He's the only one who really cares about football. And he always knows the scores. When I come in after a game, he's always quick to remind me, "Dad, you lost!" Nice, huh?

Sienna and Sierra are our three-year-old twins, affectionately called "Babygirls." Sienna is bigger than Sierra and can often be found hiding out in the snack pantry. Sierra is smaller but spunky like her mother. We often describe their personalities as sweet and spicy.

This year, the oldest five kids got to choose whether or not they wanted to attend the Super Bowl. We didn't give the Babygirls a choice. Zack chose not to come; his hearing has developed to compensate for his blindness, so he finds the fireworks at football games uncomfortably loud. Jesse wanted to come. Brenda wonders if the only reason was because she wanted to be on TV. I'd like to think it was to support her dad, but either way, I was fine with it. Kade, like I said, is playing Pop Warner football, so he's just starting to get into it a bit. He decided he wanted to come. Elijah does whatever Kade does, so of course he was in. That left Jada. At first she wanted to come because everyone else was going. Then she didn't want to waste a whole day watching football.

Sometimes when Brenda takes the kids to my games, they just fall asleep-which is good, because at least they're not bothering her while she's trying to watch the game. But this time, Brenda thought the kids should be there for the memories. She kept saying, "What if this is your last Super Bowl?" But I didn't want the kids to come to the game just because Dad was in the Super Bowl. I don't care if five years from now I have a picture of them in my arms with confetti falling around us. I don't even care if they remember I played football.

In the end, Jada decided to stay home.

Three days after the game, Jada seemed upset. "What's wrong, beautiful?" I asked.

"Dad," she said, "I really wanted to go to the Super Bowl."

That surprised me, because just days earlier she had said that going to the Super Bowl would be a waste of time. Had I missed something?

Brenda explained it to me later. "When Jada went back to school, all her friends mentioned how they saw her brothers and sister on TV, so now Jada wishes she had gone just so her friends would have seen her on TV too."

But here's the funny part: When the cameras showed my family, no one saw Kade because he was tucked inside his hoodie playing with his Nintendo DS rather than watching the game. Some of our friends watching the game on TV didn't even know that Kade had gone with us.

So that's football at the Warner house. Girls who want to get on TV and boys who want to be left alone to play their DS.


At the Super Bowl we were all sitting in the same row. It was me, then Jesse, then Elijah, then Kade. The game was in the third quarter. The third quarter. You know, the one after the huge halftime extravaganza?

I heard Elijah say, "Momma, Momma."

He said it over and over and over, and finally I'm like, "What, Elijah?"

"Is this the Super Bowl or just a normal game?"

"It's the Super Bowl, Elijah. This is the third quarter."

I focused back on the game, but a couple minutes later I heard Elijah again.

"Jesse. Jesse. Jesse. What's an armadillo?"

"Mom, Elijah wants to know what an armadillo is."

Did I mention that it was the third quarter-of the Super Bowl? And all I'm getting is, "What's an armadillo?"

Prior to the game, all they could talk about was getting a puppy. They'd seen the news coverage when Barack Obama had promised his girls a puppy if he won the election. Our kids also wanted a dog, and they tried to talk Kurt into getting one. Kurt, of course, didn't want anything to do with it. So about halfway through the season, I said, innocently enough, "Well, how about Dad gets you a puppy if he wins the Super Bowl?" And the kids all started yelling, "Yeah, Daddy! Yeah, Daddy!" The little ones really know how to work it.

So Kurt said, "I could probably agree to that, because we're not going to the Super Bowl." That's exactly what he said-the emphasis was on the probably.

But somehow it became a pact. When the kids brought up the puppy topic, Kurt would say, "If we go ...," and the kids would say, "When you go ...," But Kurt wasn't worried, because at that point in the season, no one, including Kurt, thought the Cardinals would be in the Super Bowl.

Then the playoffs started.

The way I remember it happening is that a reporter asked Kurt, "Are your kids excited about the playoffs?"

He said, "No, not really. All they care about is that Mom promised them a puppy if we win the Super Bowl."

When I read that, I couldn't believe that Kurt had told the media. Then it became a big deal. At every game, people would ask Kurt, "You get a puppy yet?" or "Did you pick out your puppy?" We started getting leashes and dog dishes in the mail.

So when the Cardinals actually made it to the Super Bowl, the children's thoughts apparently had little to do with football and everything to do with animals-puppies and armadillos.

When the game ended, Kade started crying when he realized we had lost. Bawling. He's a gentle giant, and I assumed his heart was broken for Daddy.

Then Kurt ran over to our front-row seats. I didn't think he would. Usually, he only does that when he wins. He told me later that he knew the kids would be upset, and he wanted them to know he was okay.

So, as he was standing on the field, he said to Kade, "Hey, buddy."

Kade was still crying big crocodile tears.

Kurt said, "It's okay; it's going to be okay. It's just a game. I love you all, and I'll talk to you in a little while."

As we left the stadium, it was total chaos. We had to walk through a bunch of Steelers fans, and, of course, we were wearing red. People yelled stuff-"Go, Steelers!"-right into the kids' faces. When we finally got to our car, Kade had again pulled his hood over his head so no one could tell he was crying.

As we got into the car, Elijah started bawling too. Now, I know he doesn't understand the game, so I didn't know what he was crying about. But he kept crying and crying, until finally he calmed down just enough for me to talk to him.

"Elijah, what are you still crying about?"

He sniffled, his lip quivered, and then he finally got it out: "We're not getting a puppy. Daddy lost the Super Bowl!"

We laughed about it, but Elijah continued to cry.

I'm writing this a month after the Super Bowl. We still haven't gotten a puppy.

Kurt is holding out.


Excerpted from first things first by Kurt Warner Brenda Warner JENNIFER SCHUCHMANN Copyright © 2009 by Kurt and Brenda Warner. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Brenda Warner is a speaker, philanthropist, and New York Times best-selling author. She is the mother of seven children, a registered nurse, and a Marine. But most of all, she is a storyteller who candidly shares her struggles in hopes that her life experiences can help other women. Through her message of hope and faith, and her charitable work, she inspires others during their own dark days. As a speaker, Brenda encourages her audiences to take responsibility for their choices and to depend on their faith when they hit rough patches.

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First Things First 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
snidbits More than 1 year ago
Kurt and Brenda have one goal with their book "First Things First": to let people know the "real" Kurt and Brenda and show that their life is fairly normal - or as normal as can be expected. Each chapter begins with Kurt talking about a subject and then Brenda gives her take on it. They wanted to take the time to clear up the rumors as to how they met, talk about how they run their household and how they make their marriage work. They both readily admit there's not a perfect formula for how to be the best parents or how to have a happy marriage. But they've found out what works for them. Kurt and Brenda have rules for each other as well as for their children. One rule in their marriage is the importance of a weekly date nights and for Kurt spending time with his guy friends while Brenda spends time with her girl friends. Though they've had disagreements, their love for each other hasn't wavered. He says when they have their date nights or take time away without the kids, he's putting her first. "That's what it means to love someone - it means to choose that person first over and over again." Some of the Warner rules include sharing the favorite part of the day at dinner and having to hold hands with a sibling for ten minutes if unable to get along. Brenda shares her frustrations as a NFL wife and sharing Kurt with his fans. She talks about how when the family is out, Kurt is often approached for an autograph - it's something she knows comes with the territory but she still struggles with. They talk about their faith and the role God plays in their lives. Kurt talks about what he'll do after football and Brenda shares her hobbies outside of the home. Through it all, Kurt talks about how he wants Jesus' love to shine through everything he says or does - with his family and on the field. It was fun to take a peek into the lives of Kurt and Brenda Warner. I really liked hearing both of their sides on topics. I love how Kurt talks about Brenda - it's so apparent how much he loves her. One thing he said stood out to me. He was talking about how he told her she was beautiful when her hair was a mess and she had on no makeup. "You're such a freak," she'll say, because she's always surprised that at the time she feels least attractive, I find her most beautiful." It's just so sweet to hear a guy make that effort. I also applaud his stand on his faith. He says, "I love that Jesus says we should love God so passionately. It's not like some girly "let's hold hands" kind of love; it's full contact. Jesus wants us to love God with our entire being - our heart, soul and mind. That's how I want to love him." This was a really good read - made me laugh, made me tear up at times - definitely one I'd recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book! It is what it is: A book about a famous NFL/Christian family and what their rules for living are. They talk about things like lending money to friends and family, handling autograph seekers while eating out, having a child whose favorite player is not his father, cheering for players on the team playing against their daughter's team, how often other people have sex, and Brenda's love for Spanx. (How many women out there feely admit to a belly roll? Brenda does!) The most touching parts of the book are about their son Zack who is a special needs young adult. They freely discuss what happened to him and how they, as a family, have delt with it. Reading the stories of how Zack loves to pick up trash and how they accept this and feel that, well, maybe someday he'll have a job picking up trash in a movie theater is very touching. This story illustrates the totally matter-of-fact way they handle their lives. Kurt is one of the best-known Christians in the country and they write about how he lives his life as a religious person on and off the field. They also talk about the demands placed on him by his fans. And yes, they talk about groupies and Brenda's discomfort with the attention Kurt receives from women. What struck me most about this book is how honest they both are about their life and their family. There isn't a lot of sugar coating. If you come away not liking Brenda (or Kurt) after you read this book I don't think it's going to bother either one of them very much. For Cardinals fans their is a great story about how and why he decided to re-sign with the team. My favorite story in the book concerns a certain Thanksgiving dinner, BBQ and the local food court. Hilarious! If you love Kurt Warner or if you just want to read a good book on the life of one famous American family you will love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommend this book to everyone I know. It is absolutely amazing! Kurt and Brenda were so honest and sincere and I feel like I really know them! It was a very easy read, and I finished the book in a matter of a few hours! Their kids seem awesome, too, especially their oldest daughter, Jesse, who wrote the forward. I hope that everyone reads First Things First, because it is a wonderful story. GREAT BOOK. You'll love it, I promise!
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THaskins More than 1 year ago
What I loved MOST about this book was the faithful, down-to-earth, journey this family has made (and used for God's glory - not their own)! Being a professional football player in this day and time is considered one of the most glamorous careers ever! Not only are they highlighted as "stars", they are given a lot of power, prestige and influence. Being a person that enjoys education and learning, most often I find myself upset that professional athletes are so grossly over-paid (In my opinion) compared to educators (which are much more valuable for educating our children to change our world for the better). However, I must say how extremely excited I am to see this man (Kurt Warner) rewarded for his talent - because he knows what to do with the fame - HELP OTHERS (as we have been commanded by our Creator). One of the many parts I enjoyed was when Kurt Warner informs us his Super Bowl ring is located under the family coach (he thinks). That is humility! He is a man who knows what's important (and that's CHRIST - NOT FOOTBALL!). I admire what his family has done and continues to do to help others less fortunate. In my heart, I know God placed him in this world at this time for a specific purpose - to glorify Him and His Children! I would like to personally thank the Warner's for being good and faithful servants! I pray God blesses each and every one of you!
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PurpleQueenFairy More than 1 year ago
I received a trade paperback version of this book from Tyndale for review. When I got it, I wasn't sure when I'll start reviewing it. I wasn't sure how long it will take me to review it. I browsed through the pages, looked at the beautiful coloured photos. I decided to start with the Forward by Jesse (their eldest daughter) just to get a feel of the book. After the Forward, why not continue with the Prologue by the authors and after the Prologue, I challenge myself to just read chapter one to get a feel of the book as I really need to complete the other book I have with me. Before I know it, I'm halfway through the whole book! In total, I read this book in less than 2 days! For a non-fiction, it was an engrossing read. It was like Kurt and Brenda just fling open the door of their lives and share with us their family stories. It wasn't so much as a parenting guide book with their recommended do's and don'ts but more like a how they actually live the lives of the being a Warner and how they are guided by the 'rules' they established for themselves. However, the interesting thing is that they do not always agree on these 'rules'. For example, Brenda says Kurt is not to sign autographs when he's with his family and she gave her reason why (which I don't really agree with but nevermind). On the other hand, , Kurt sometimes still does it as he feels that it brought so much joy to his fans. Each chapter has a theme and then we have Kurt's version and then there's Brenda's version. Sometimes, I enjoy reading the different perspective to a situation. However, sometimes I was annoyed when there's repetitive in both versions which made me just a bit impatient in wanting to move along. This could be due to editing. The Warner also introduced us to the different characteristic of their kids. In total, they have 7 kids with 2 from Brenda's earlier marriage. Each kid has different personality and brought different parenting challenges to Kurt and Brenda. The writing is light with humour thrown in here and there and is really a fun book. I really enjoyed reading this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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KatieCan86 More than 1 year ago
First Things First was a very easy read. It gave you a first hand look into the life of the Warner's. I'm kind of embarrassed to say that I really knew nothing about Kurt or Brenda Warner before I read this book. I'm the kind of person that doesn't really watch the game unless my team is winning. LOL. However, just by reading this book I feel like I know who the are better than I ever could by watching the game on T.V. . I really enjoyed reading this book! They are a Christian family with many helpful suggestions for family life. There isn't much information on his football career included in First Things First because it's mostly about his family and charity work. What do I love MOST about this book? I love that each chapter begins with Kurt's point of view and then switches to Brenda's point of view. I love to see each of their point of views and how they use them to successfully work together. This is a very inspirational book, one that I HIGHLY recommend. Tyndale House Publishers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book or ARC.
garfieldwtf More than 1 year ago
First Thing First by Kurt and Brenda Warner is a very special book. It's written by a couple who have seven children. This book is somewhat an autobiography of the family. Told in a very mesmerizing and quirky way by Kurt and Brenda Warner. Kurt is a two-time NFL MVP-winning quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals Brenda Warner on the other hand is an ex-Marine turned stay-at-home mom who collects coats for low-income kids and rocks babies to sleep at a hospital for chronically-ill infants. Being married alone in this modern era where loads of temptation and challenges around is not an easy task. What more if you have 7 children from various stage of growing up with you. In this book, Brenda and Kurt tells the story about how they manage their marriage and nurture their children. This book tells people that children and family must come first, no matter what you do. This book also demonstrate that with proper structure, love, discipline as well as faith, things can never go wrong, even though there's rough spot along the way. Through this book, I learn a lot. One of it is that coupled with love, families must stick together and work together as one unit to make things work. This is a good book for both parents and children to read. There's a lot of things you can learn for this book. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, and would recommend this for people who are in need of a little boost and motivation in handling both their marriage and family in a fun way. I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers for an advance reading as part of their blogger review program . I was not required to write a positive review and therefore, the book review is 100% my own opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lighthearted and yet very touching. It is just a great story the warms the heart.
erb002 More than 1 year ago
This book was inspirational in how this family has tried to keep it real. They aren't false in thinking they are perfect but just tell about some things that have worked for them. It was a reassuring an inspiring book from a wonderful Christian family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not wait to purchase this book. I have been a fan of Kurt's for many years. He did not disappoint me. I found his prospective to be from the heart, selfless and sincere. He is a wonderful husband, father, friend and Christian. Brenda, on the other hand, comes across as a self-absorbed, vain and controlling person. She has major trust issues and insecurities stemming from a failed first marriage. She even manages Kurt's emails. It's hard to believe he tolerates it. All her rules for him have to do with his stroking her ego. She mentions how she was the cute sister growing up, which is hard to believe, and that she is "hot" now. Well anyone can be hot with the same enhancements. She talks about having household help who did not dress appropriately around Kurt, yet at the book signing in NJ, she had on a very low cut dress around our husbands. Double standard? The format was good, he said, she said. The photo spread on each child was also enjoyable. It was just disappointing to realize who the true Brenda is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
number14 More than 1 year ago
I was anxious for this book to come out and looked forward to the release. That being said, I could not believe what I was reading after purchasing the book. The title should have been "Brenda's Rules For Kurt Since I Was Cheated On By My First Husband". Kurt can play quarterback in NFL and lead teams to the Super Bowl, but can't have his own email account? She has to monitor every email he sends/receives? She confronts him about a contestant on a game show he teamed with after she sent flowers as a thank you with a phone number. I understand that could have been taken as a possible advance, but to call this out in a book is drama overkill. If the person continued to try to contact him, yes - one bouquet, no. She consistently calls out players (Larry Fitzgerald), friends and fans for their "horrible" acts and statements, admitting she will always say what is on her mind - meanwhile her behavior is worse than all of these combined. What she needs is a "Brenda" to control Brenda. I thought one of the major components of a successful marriage/relationship was TRUST? Kurt shows his love and devotion to his wife through his actions and words daily only to be judged by the actions of Brenda's first husband. Unbelievable. Brenda is either constantly whining about the price of fame (on and on and on about autographs - geez, I'm tired of hearing about) or bragging about the perks that come with same fame. I applaud the Warner's for their constant charity efforts (monetary and time), but after hearing about each one in detail, it started to seem like a infomercial for their acts of kindness. I know of numerous people who give time and gifts who don't feel the need to be recognized and applauded by the public. Awareness of the fund is fine, but after 200 pages, it didn't feel that way. I did like some of the family rules the Warners have, but they seemed to get lost within the World According to Brenda. I began the book with a desire to be fed useful information that could be applied to the everyday common person/family - after finishing the book, I find myself still hungry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book reads like a series of their motivational speeches which were put together in order to create a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kurt warner is GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!