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Warner basking in warmth of success

Back from his victorious trip to the Super Bowl, and the obligatory trip to Disney World that goes to the game's MVP, Kurt Warner still can't fathom how much he's living every man's dream.

Asked what it's like to achieve the dream of every young American boy who's chucked a football in the back yard, Warner could only repeat his philosophy of taking all things good and bad one day at a time.

"Everybody asks me. But it's hard to look at it because it's just my life," he said Wednesday during his first practice with the NFC for Sunday's Pro Bowl.

"Everybody looks at it from the outside and sees it as this big story," he said of his rise from grocery stock boy and Arena League quarterback to Super Bowl champion and MVP. "To me, it's just how it is. Just one day at a time. Live through the hard times and now I'm living through the good times."

It's still difficult for Warner to put into words his dream season in which he began as a backup, replaced injured Trent Green before the opening game, and led his team to the Super Bowl. Warner passed for 4,353 yards and 41 touchdowns, only the second NFL quarterback to throw for more than 40 scores in a season, and was named league MVP.

He capped an amazing season with a 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce with less than two minutes to play as St. Louis beat Tennessee 23-16 in the Super Bowl Sunday.

"You can't really explain it. You can't really put into words what this season has meant," Warner said. "You just can't describe it. But it's a great feeling, and you try to relish in it and enjoy every minute and not get caught up with all the fame and fortune and media. Enjoy it for what it's worth and not make too much out of it."

With just six hours of sleep in the previous three days, Warner was looking to relax, and wasn't sure how much he would play Sunday.

"I'm a little beat up right now so we'll just have to wait and see what happens," he said. "If it does, it does. If it doesn't, no big deal. I'm just here to try and enjoy it. In a fun place like this, against your peers, there's no question this is a great way to finish it."

Seven of the eight Rams playing in the Pro Bowl made it to Wednesday's practice. Bruce was scheduled to arrive Wednesday.

Like Warner, they were finding it hard to describe their feelings.

"I can't put it into words," defensive lineman D'Marco Farr said. "Just a strange season."

Playing in his first Pro Bowl, Lyght was awed by the scene in the NFC locker room.

"You come into a locker room and you're dressing with guys like Hardy Nickerson, Emmitt Smith, Steve Beuerlein," he said. "Unbelievable."

VERMEIL'S SURPRISE: Rams players reacted with surprise when they learned upon arriving Tuesday night that coach Dick Vermeil had resigned.

"It really caught me off balance, because I was actually on the plane coming down here," defensive end Kevin Carter said. "I didn't know about it. I was pretty shocked. He's a great coach. He's done it three different decades. But if that's the way he feels, I'm happy he went out on top."

YO HERE: The Buccaneers re-signed wide receiver Yo Murphy to a two-year contract. Murphy played in seven games for the Bucs this season, catching four passes for 28 yards, and returned 14 kickoffs for 307 yards. He was released by the Bucs on Dec. 2 and claimed by Minnesota, but was released by the Vikings on Jan. 11.

SAPP-SHOT: Defensive tackle Warren Sapp will do a photo shoot today for a cover piece in Sport Magazine that will appear in March. Sapp also will sit for an interview for a profile in the April issue of Esquire magazine. He also will do an interview with ESPN's Mike Golic.

Linebacker Derrick Brooks is scheduled to tape an episode of ESPN's Up Close today. The segment will air over the weekend.

_ RICK STROUD, TIMES WIRES

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