As the NFL is celebrating its 100th year, the Arizona Cardinals are attempting to do what no other NFL has ever done before: light up the scoreboard with an Air Raid offense.
New head coach and chief architect of the K-Raid, Kliff Kingsbury, has been told by numerous members of the national media all of the reasons why his attempt to be a successful NFL head coach will fail.
Kyler Murray, the first rookie QB to start game one for the Cardinals since 1954, has been told by numerous members of the national media that he is too short to be a successful NFL QB, especially while attempting to run such a quixotic college offense against formidable NFL defenses.
Every conceivable reason why Kingsbury and Murray will inevitably fail in the NFL has been presented to them via a daily stream of broadcasting litanies.
From the NFL oddsmakers in Las Vegas to the local Arizona sports radio hosts—-all are unanimously convinced that the Cardinals are most likely a 3 win team again this season and that the most wins they could hope for is 6.
While many NFL pundits and fans are fascinated to see Kingsbury, Murray and the K-Raid in action, virtually no one, at this point, is convinced they can or will be successful.
During the pre-season games and last night’s NFL Thursday Night Football season opener of the Packers versus the Bears, one of the hype commercials for the 100th year anniversary of the NFL is a montage of players and coaches all over the country singing “We Ready, We Ready, We Ready, For Y’all.”
The “We Ready” rallying cry is sung to the melody of one of America’s longest standing songs sung at sporting events, as an “arena taunt”, typically sung by fans of the winning team during the waning moments of a contest when their team has iced the game.
The song is “Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Hey, Hey Hey, Goodbye,” a popular hit in the 1960s co-written by Paul Leka.
I had the privilege of meeting Paul Leka at a songwriter’s conference back in the 1980s. He was the keynote speaker. And what he said in that Hartford, CT conference room on that auspicious evening has stuck with me every day since, like a two velcro tabs.
in his spirited attempt to encourage the aspiring songwriters at the assembly, Leka said that when he graduated from college his parents threw him a party and at the party whenever he was asked by family members and friends what he wanted to be in life, he said, “I want to be a songwriter.”
Leka said that short of being laughed out of the room, everyone he spoke to provided him with a laundry list of all of the reasons why he would never make it as a songwriter.
“So what do you really want to be?”, all of them asked.
Leka said, “I really want to be a songwriter.”
Thus, what he told us next is the wonderfully ironic moral of the story.
Leka said that when “Na, Na, Na, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye” (the actual title) made it into the top 10 on both the American and British Billboard charts, he threw his own party for his family and friends.
He said, “you wouldn’t believe what everyone was telling me now!”
“Yup, that’s right, every family member and friend who previously tried to talk me out of being a songwriter told me, ‘we KNEW you could do it’ ”
For anyone who has ever had a crazy dream and has had to fend off a barrage of cynics—-Leka’s story is a godsend.
If you listen to the Cardinals, as they prepare to unveil the new team, the new coaching staff, the new QB and the brand new offense versus the Lions at home on Sunday, you can tell that not only are they excited to write this new chapter in the Cardinals’ 100 year history, but that they sincerely believe in their chances to succeed:
WR Larry Fitzgerald: “Every single day, with more experience, we are able to run the offense faster and faster and faster, get more plays in more efficiently. Kyler’s really got the juice.”
QB Kyler Murray: “We know the plan.”
QB Coach Tom Clements: “We are looking forward” to showing the full offense.
DC Vance Joseph: “I am excited to see who we are.”
RB David Johnson: “Kyler Murray is scary good. People underestimate his ability to throw. He can throw dimes.”
if you haven’t watched and listened to Kliff Kingsbury’s pre-opening game press conference, take a good look:
When asked, “Why do you think this (Air Raid) can work when it’s never been used before in the NFL?”, Kingsbury, without hesitation, said, “Because it’s never been used before in the NFL.”
When asked about how excited he is to see what Kyler Murray can do, Kingsbury said, “I’m just excited to see what the entire team does. Everyone’s been working hard since we got here, staff, trainers, equipment managers, everybody, to get to week one, so I’m just excited to see how it goes.”
Kingsbury concluded, “Nobody really knows what we are going to do and what it is going to look like and se we’ll kind of take it one game at at a time.”
While the team’s success may not happen overnight, one might dare to wonder how long it will take for the cynics to admit, “we KNEW you could do it.”
In the meantime, as the new lyrics to the oldie goldie song go, the Cardinals seem to be singing it these days themselves: “We Ready, We Ready, We Ready, For Y’all.”