The other day, I began to write a 2018 Los Angeles Rams season preview that morphed into about 5,000 words about the Vietnam War and the Iraq War and it was nonsense. But it got at the idea that there is a narrow band of success that defines modern efforts because of analysis oversaturation and the impossibility of defining the limits of what can be considered success in the modern era.
And that that’s part of what makes sports so satisfying is its singular marker of success.
Now yes, there is a tribe of teams that, in all sincerity, is not operating toward a championship. Well, that’s slightly misleading. They’re not operating toward a championship now. This season. But they are operating toward one...eventually. At some point. Maybe next year. And that means you have to work now to lay the foundation for that possible success later because the success isn’t coming now.
But for many and in the case of the NFL perhaps most teams, the chances of winning a championship now, this season, are legitimate enough to entertain before the season begins. Before losses and injuries and mistakes turn those chances into memories. Many/most in this sport begin September believing.
And because that belief is so legitimate, it becomes the fuel that keeps the flame burning throughout the calendar year.
Turf Show Times started in 2006 amid the first season that I could feel the flame flickering out. The belief was dying.
And for good reason.
The 2007 Rams began a five-year run of what would become the worst five-year run in NFL history. Not a bad run. The worst.
And I, like many other Rams fans, instead of being able to enjoy the belief that our team could actually win, could actually inherit the singular marker of success the sport provides meant we were forced to seek out other pockets of satisfaction. Other markers. Silver linings. Semi-victories.
The flame was dead.
Sean McVay took the job of the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams on January 12, 2017. He became the youngest head coach in the history of the NFL’s modern era. And he was nearly as immediately misunderstood as he was eventually successful because he is a millennial operating in an NFL power structure and traditional media environment largely run by Gen Xers and baby boomers.
And it doesn’t matter.
Sean McVay was named Head Coach of the Year in 2017. He was immediately sought out for counsel and input. His style is going to be mimicked. His to-the-end-of-the-clock communication with QB Jared Goff was widely derided and ridiculed by many last year. It’s going to replicated by many others.
And it doesn’t matter.
All that matters is the pursuit.
And McBae has the Rams on the hunt.
This year is going to be long. And tiring.
There are going to be new fans. There are going to be trolls. That’s part of what comes with wins.
It’s worth it.
The Rams are back in the fold with the rest of the league’s franchises who provide their fan bases hope. Real hope. Sincere hope. Not a hope based on regurgitated talking points from the team and its employees. Not a hope based on the formulaic offseason hype from acolytes in the media.
They’re back. And they’re giving real hope.
There’s a singular marker ahead.
And now the flame is back.
Burn, motherfucker. Burn.