We’re just a few weeks away from the NFL kickoff game between the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills, and I’m already annoyed with the season before it even starts.
Listen, don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy that glorious football will be back. I’m basically crossing days off of the calendar like a prisoner, anxiously awaiting those crisp Sundays full of sloth and yelling at the television.
The problem is, and where my annoyance stems from, is that I can’t help but think that this coming season will be as rote and predictable as some of the 22 that came before it. I use the last 22 seasons as a marker for a reason, because circling back to the beginning of those two-plus decades (1999) brings us to the debut of what I still consider the most absurd story arc in NFL (and maybe all of sports) history.
Kurt Warner and The Greatest Show on Turf.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know there’s been some pretty wild stuff that’s happened in some of those individual seasons since then, with all of them of course involving Tom Brady (See: 2001, 2007, 2020). But having lived through it, and putting my pro-Brady bias aside, trust me when I say that NOTHING comes close to the wild ride that was the 1999 season thanks to Kurt Warner and that pass-happy Rams team.
The CliffsNotes version, in case you’ve been living under a rock: The Rams were coming off a 4-12 season. They lost quarterback Trent Green to a knee injury in the preseason (Thanks to Rodney Harrison!). They were a trash team with zero expectations.
Instead, they won a Super Bowl thanks to some no-name supermarket stock boy-turned-Arena League QB who came in and basically threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns for 19 weeks, all while simultaneously causing his head coach to weep like an old woman during that same timespan.
It defied logic, it was absolutely bananas, and that high-octane offense was AWESOME to watch in real time.
And oh, how I so desperately want something like this to happen again. We NEED something like this to happen again. We’re due! It’s been 20-plus years!
Alas, it won’t.
So it’ll be more of the same, and this is why I’m annoyed before that first game even kicks off. All the teams that are supposed to be good, like the Bills, Rams, Packers and Chiefs, will still be annoyingly good. The Thursday night games will suck. We will all collectively hate the refs. We will all collectively hate the new rules. The Patriots will continue to be a rudderless ship without you-know-who.
Oh sure, some middling team might pop out of the woodwork like last year’s Cincinnati Bengals, but we all know how that story goes. Team looks like the next big thing, goes on a run, only to crap themselves in the Super Bowl. It’s a cheap December/January sugar high that doesn’t last.
This is why I need the REAL shit.
I need to ride the lightning of a Kurt Warner type coming out of nowhere to tear every team in the league a new asshole starting Week 1, and becoming a name even your nana knows by the middle of October. If you lived it like I did, you know of what I speak. ESPECIALLY if you happened to hit the lottery and pick up Kurt Warner on the waiver wire in your fantasy league in 1999. I still have friends to this day that recall having Warner on their fantasy team that year, and the way they talk about it is almost sexual in nature.
And so I pray to the football gods to make it happen again.
Let some guy nobody’s heard of come out of nowhere like Arizona’s Trace McSorley, or Washington’s Sam Howell. Hell, I’ll even take first-round bust Josh Rosen saving the Browns while the Pervert Massage King rides out his suspension. Just give us the crazy story that even a hack in Hollywood couldn’t dream of thinking up one more time.
Give it to us this 2022 NFL Season.
Give us Kurt Warner 2.0.