I’m a big Star Wars fan. I have a mini BB-8 on my desk, right next to a Boba Fett helmet that I got as a wedding present. I grew up on the original trilogy. That’s my jam. Now, let’s say those old movies are Todd Gurley’s rookie season. Exciting. Successful. Something you can build a franchise on.
And best of all, the fans wanted more. The recipe for greatness for Gurley and the Star Wars Franchise at that time was simple -- just keep churning out more of the same.
Now, I was in college when the prequels came out. I was pumped. All of my friends were. This was what we wanted. More Star Wars. After we saw the trailer for Episode I: The Phantom Menace, we were like, “This is going to be amazing.” We waited in line in Westwood. All night. It was a circus. News vans were there. They closed down a major street and nerds were playing 11 on 11 football. Pizzerias were handing out free food to the dorks camped out on the sidewalk. It was great. Until the movie started.
When I walked out of the first screening of The Phantom Menace, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that after all this buildup, that big expensive pile of terrible was the final result. It took over 12 hours to admit that the movie was an abomination and my friends and I had to move on from the franchise — it was time.
That same feeling of confused disappointment is what it was like to watch Todd Gurley run the football on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Gurley looked like the guy who dominated in 13 games of the 2015 NFL season. Exactly like him. But now, instead of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Yoda... it’s whole lot of Jar Jar Binks.
Gurley ran for 40 yards on 19 attempts against the Colts in week 1. That’s 2.1 yards per carry. He did have a rushing touchdown and 56 recieving yards. But he needs to run the ball.
The reason why this comparison makes sense to me is because I spent such a long time trying to figure out why Episode I: The Phantom Menace is such a horrible experience. It had the same guy who was the brains behind the original film, George Lucas, writing and directing. It had the music. The lightsabers. What was missing?
By the late 90s, George Lucas was so rich and successful, that he wasn’t listening to his peers like Steven Spielberg or Ron Howard anymore. He wasn’t challenged enough creatively to make better films. He just wanted to build his legacy with piles and piles of money.
And just like George Lucas, Todd Gurley is going to make a bunch of money in his career. In a couple years, he’ll get a big contract from some team (maybe the Rams) and he’ll be fine.
But the current Los Angeles Rams fans are not fine. They have this strange feeling. As if they’re wondering to themselves, "What happened to the Todd Gurley we fell in love with? Why is he not exploding past the first wave of defenders? Why are runs that should net 8 yards only getting 2?"
For some reason that cannot be explained, Todd Gurley isn’t the same guy as he was in 2015. His vision has shifted and he’s not seeing the field like he was before.
And yes. Of course Todd Gurley can turn it around.
In 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm for 4 billion dollars and started making films without George Lucas involved. In 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released and made bank. I think it’s a great film -- I’m a big fan once again.
Maybe Todd Gurley needs a new team. Maybe he’ll show up years from now in another uniform, shredding the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive line. But I hope that’s not the case. I want Todd Gurley to be awesome now.
However, I know how the prequel trilogy ends. And it’s not a happy ending.