Those few of us who care about US sports will know a few stories inside and out. Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier in 1947 to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers is without a shadow of a doubt the most important. We all agree on that but other stories are told. For me the depths that Josh Hamilton plummeted with all the natural ability in the world but unable to deal with alcohol and drug issues and the comeback and that night in Yankee Stadium is one I read a lot about. The ongoing struggle as he continues to face those demons today.
However at the moment we have Linsanity. Some unknown kid (well not exactly a kid anyone) but a player who has been cut twice, was playing D-League ball comes up to the big team because of a rash of injuries and plays flat out lights out. He takes the team on his back and they’ve now won six straight since he’s come into the club. The feel good story of a guy living on a team mates couch and being the most talked about player in the league isn’t a new one.
Going back 13 years now the St. Louis Rams lost their star QB in an exhibition game and they turned to backup Kurt Warner. r Warner was a star of Aerna League Football and had been stocking shelves at a local supermarket when he joined the Rams. No-one heard of him and no-one expected anything and then something happened. He played football and became quite simply – the best QB in the league. Some unknown backup took a team on his back and was just brilliant. It inspired to this day still my favourite SI front cover Who Is This Guy?
Kurt Warner led his team to a Super Bowl that they won on the last play of the game with a tackle at the one yard line. He led them back again only to be beaten by a last second Field Goal against the Patriots. Then it was over. The Greatest Show on Turf as it was dubbed was finished. Warner became just another back-up in New York and then in the desert in Arizona. However then he started to play great again and led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl and put them in a position to win late but the Steelers would come back to win it late.
The voice-over artist on NFL Films America’s Game said this of Warner, ‘in the space of four months he (Warner) went from anonymous backup to national curiosity to bona fide superstar’ and that is spot on. Kurt Warner should end up in the Hall of Fame. I’m not saying Jeremy Lin will but what I am saying is that these stories are great and compelling. Sport is all about stories and Linsanity is a great one no matter what Floyd Mayweather says.
I don’t watch Basketball apart from March Madness but I don’t want Linsanity to end. It is a great story that keeps people engaged in the sport. Look at Tim Tebow and the Broncos this year. The madness that surrounded the ex-Florida QB led to the Broncos v Pats AFC divisional playoff game being the most watched non Super Bowl match of all time. That was all thanks to Tebow and the story transcending sport into popular culture. Linsanity is starting to do that and if it continues for the rest of the season then the NBA’s lockout will seem a distant memory.
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