American Underdog: We’ve Come Full Circle

Saturday night usually is movie night for me so, being a Temple football fan, I scanned through the new offerings of Amazon Prime and found out I could purchase “American Underdog.”

It was the best $19.95 I’ve ever spent, not quite bringing me as much bang for the buck as the $125 I spent for a bus trip to the AAC championship game of 2016 (that included tickets) but close. Hell, a championship is worth a million, not a mere $125.

With the signing of Elijah Warner less than a week ago by new head coach Stan Drayton, this seemed like a pretty good time to revisit the story of his dad, 2017 NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner.

In the movie, it was funny to hear coaches at several levels call Kurt “Pop” referring to one of the greatest coaches of all time who made two schools (Temple and Stanford) famous for football back in the day. We’ve come full circle now that his kid has “fallen in love” with Temple, whose President played football at Stanford. His winning Super Bowl coach with the Rams was Dick Vermeil, a West Coast guy who fell in love with Philadelphia and still lives a figurative stone’s throw away from Temple.

Vermeil believed in Kurt, a true American Underdog who was bagging groceries at the Iowa equivalent of “The Ac-a-Me” (or Shop-Rite) before the Rams signed him.

Kurt, Elijah and Brenda on signing day.

Evidently, others believe with me. The movie gets a solid 75 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, beating by almost 20 points my second favorite movie of this calendar year “Don’t Look Up” which has quite a few more A-list stars. The 98 percent rating from viewers is off the charts.

It’s easy to see why.

American Underdog was extremely well done and should resonate well here, not just because of the Temple/Warner/Vermeil/Philadelphia angle.

There are so many wired storylines in this family, Philadelphia, and Temple to shut down a Texas power grid.

Something tells me this “Warner Era” at Temple is going to work out. Elijah, like Kurt, experienced his share of rejection along the way, only to be told by other schools he was “their guy” one day who then called that they signed another guy the next day. Drayton said he liked Elijah because he had that same “chip on his shoulder” his dad did after getting rebuffed by the Packers only to prove himself in the Arena Football League and again with the Rams.

In that case, Drayton might be Temple’s Dick Vermeil.

As a big recent fan of thoroughbred horse racing, I’ve long been a believer in bloodlines of champions. The best horse in the business right now is named Flightline, who is the product of the great Tapit. Temple is the one school that has success with bloodlines. Temple NG Joe Klecko’s son, Dan, was Big East defensive MVP at Temple. Jim Bright, a 1950 fullback with the Owls, sired a 1979 Garden State bowl MVP, Mark Bright, also a fullback. Zach Dixon, a terrific 1,000-yard running back with the 1978 Owls, sired future NFL defensive end Raheem Brock.

Now we get to adopt a Northern Iowa son, just like Kurt adopted Brenda’s son, Zach, in the movie. (If the “I pick you” line doesn’t get you in the feels, you don’t have tear ducts.)

Unless the son of John Elway, Dan Marino or even Tom Brady walk through the E-O door, Temple is going to do no better from a gene pool standpoint than Warner.

Not many schools are.

I’ve never seen his mom throw a football but I’ve seen his dad chuck it several thousand times.

If Elijah wings it the way his dad does and both Tapit and Flightline run it, the Owls should be in pretty good shape.

Somewhere up there, the real Pop Warner is looking down and smiling.

Friday: The Case For the Defense

3 thoughts on “American Underdog: We’ve Come Full Circle

  1. I played with Kurt in the Arena League in ’95 and a tour in Europe as well. If his kid is as smart, tough, competitive and has the skills of his Dad then it will be fun to watch. Dad was a tremendous leader!

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