The second season of Folktales begins this week, with "The Hyphen Wins A House" premiering on the Arizona Cardinals YouTube channel Wednesday at 7 p.m.
LaRod Stephens-Howling was the quiet one, always, and particularly as he trotted out to take the opening kickoff for the 2010 home opener, a direct contrast to the frenzied fans dotted around then-University of Phoenix Stadium.
The time leading up to the game – any game – was tough for Stephens-Howling, the Cardinals' seventh-round pick from the University of Pittsburgh the year before. Every time, without fail, "I'm nervous as crap."
"Can't even feel my fingers until I touched a ball for the first time," he said.
The Raiders were the opponent in the Cardinals' third game of the year – they had won in St. Louis but lost in Atlanta – and the reigning NFC West champions were a much different looking team from the year before, without Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle.
Sebastian Janikowski kicked off for Oakland, and the ball settled into Stephens-Howling's hands, two yards deep in the end zone.
The man they called The Hyphen brought it out, with fellow running back Jason Wright as his lead blocker. The Raiders flew down the field trying to take him out.
"I just remember the hole opening up," Stephens-Howling said.
The play became one of the most memorable of Stephens-Howling's career, not just for the result, but for what it meant to a couple who had just moved to Arizona.
Home may be where the heart is, but this time, The Hyphen was where the house was.
Dave Johnson wasn't a Cardinals fan yet. He and his wife Darci Nimz just had moved to Arizona.
They didn't need a house, either. They had just bought one.
It was there in the Lennar Homes office where an agent suggested they sign up for a contest. It was in conjunction with the Cardinals. If the team could return the first kickoff they received in a game, a lucky fan would win a house.
Dave Johnson made it clear they weren't in the market, and neither Dave or Darci made it a habit to sign up for such things. But the encouragement didn't stop, and he figured, why not?
"Two weeks later, she called and said, 'Hey Dave, you guys want a chance to win a house? You get to go to the game,' " Johnson said. "And I was like, 'Cool.' "
The promotion blossomed from brainstorming sessions the Cardinals business development team had with Lennar, looking for an interesting way to team with one of the franchise's new sponsors.
"The genesis of this was this great idea of, let's theme a promotion around one of the most exciting plays in an NFL game – a player taking it to the house, especially on the opening kickoff," said Steve Ryan, Cardinals senior vice president of business development. "If that happens, we're going to give away a home."
It sounded good in theory. The promotion was all season long – in whatever half the Cardinals received the opening kickoff. But as the Johnsons settled into their seats, truthfully, what were the chances?