We at On Fire love institutions. They are the things that make this country great. The institution of marriage, mental institutions, Buffalo Wild Wings … what would this country be without institutions like these, which give our lives meaning in the good times and carry us through the bad?

We at On Fire are proud that our column, like baseball, delivery pizza and Jeopardy, is one of the institutions that makes our nation awesome.

But what are the origins of this great institution? Where did On Fire come from? Your intrepid On Fire correspondent is just one is a long line of On Fire correspondents, one of innumerable brave, vigilant, conscientious, diligent, daring and witty individuals to have the privilege of corresponding with On Fire.

Your ever-curious On Fire correspondent decided to dig through the archives to discover the origins of On Fire. Yes, we know what our loyal readers must be thinking – how can something that has no beginning or end have origins? To be clear, On Fire is an eternal spirit that resides in a wormhole in the far left corner of the galaxy – it is not, as our editors seem to think, a thing that your often-misunderstood On Fire correspondent just makes up.

However, there was a certain point in the history of the sports section when we first gained the opportunity to correspond with On Fire and print ITS words in our pages. This was what your vigilant On Fire correspondent was looking for while spending long hours in the dark, dirty, dusty archives.

And we found the first On Fire, published on December 3, 1999, topped with the tagline, “We’ve been here for years.”

Your intrepid On Fire correspondent, in order to discover the origins of On Fire, decided to carry out a little investigative journalism – that is to say, he (or she) tweeted at the guy who was sports editor during the time of the first On Fire.

This trailblazing man, who shall rename anonymous, as all On Fire correspondents do (if our loyal readers have any problems with this policy, they can email their complaints to [email protected]), initially thought that this was a joke – little did he know that we at On Fire never joke.

However, once we explained that we were nothing but earnest, he confirmed that On Fire was founded under his reign as sports tsar and brought other earlier On Fire correspondents into this epic email exchange. We then went on to ask about the history of On Fire – for instance, we wanted to know, was the tagline “We’ve been here for years” a reference to the fact that even though this was the first column, the spirit of On Fire is eternal and has always been a part of the sports section?

And our historic correspondents had many thoughts and memories about On Fire. The original tagline was a line from “1990s-era hip hop/popular songs played at bar mitzvahs … LL Cool J’s epic “Momma Said Knock You Out” track,” which your fact-checking On Fire correspondent confirmed on Google. However, it was not a reference to an eternal spirit – only “mocking the fact that it was the first edition.”

Here is what we know. The history of On Fire is “deep and complex.” At this time, the sports section had “carte blanche to do as we pleased, and so we did… There were no rules.” (Unlike now, when we are chained down by editorial oversight). “We tried to be funny, even though we often weren’t, but more than that, we tried to have fun.” The whole thing was “some kind of inside joke.” The name of our eternal spirit, On Fire, came either from Marv Albert’s catchphrase or from the thing that happened to players in NBA jam when they score enough points in a row.

The point is, On Fire is an institution with a long and storied history. But like the correspondents of yore, the time has come for your almost-free On Fire correspondent to say goodbye. This is his (or her) retirement column. Someone else will have the privilege of corresponding with On Fire next semester, and it seems safe to say that whatever they write will be much less funny than what our readers have grown accustomed to.

It has been one hell of a ride, guys. As always, if you want to apply for the On Fire internship, please send your resume, a cover letter and the number of Dooley Dollars that you have left to [email protected]