Even though they lost, the Cardinals won - The Explorer: Sports

Even though they lost, the Cardinals won

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Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:27 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

There are five steps to the grieving process.

Last Monday, I entered the first with a vengeance. It was the first morning in recent memory that I did not tune to ESPN2’s FirstTake for sports news, athlete interviews and spirited debate.


I was in denial … denial that the tragic events of the Arizona Cardinals’ first Super Bowl, a 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, had indeed come to pass. I couldn’t bear to hear the analysts and sports experts and e-mails. Smirking and beaming their snark-laden comments into the airwaves, they’d say “Well, we told you about that defense, the Cardinals had a good run, but it had to end.” (Of course, now I realize that’s not really what would’ve happened, but at the time those smirks and remarks would have sounded not unlike the shrill laughter of the Wicked Witch of the West.)

I ignored the television, ditched the sports page and boycotted blogs and columns on both national and local levels, went into work at the bar and turned on the extreme sports channel. “The home of snowboarding and motocross cares little for football,” I thought. “Perhaps the soothing waves of a surfing special will make me forget.”

It didn’t work. Niche TV networks might be able to ignore the Super Bowl, but co-workers who know full well you’re a Cardinals fan … forget it.

Forced to face the crushing defeat and without a punching bag handy, I quickly descended into stage two: anger (and lots of it). Anger at the defense, (“…how could [Pittsburgh wide receiver] Santonio Holmes gain more than 70 yards on the last drive of the game, and catch an end zone pass against triple coverage, especially since the Steelers had tried the same play only minutes before; the only reason Holmes didn’t score on that try was because [Pittsburgh QB] Ben Roethlisberger overthrew him?”) Anger at the offense: “Kurt Warner was scared in the pocket in the second quarter, he wasn’t looking off, he was telegraphing his passes and getting rid of them too quickly!”

I was very out of breath after most of these rants. These weren’t the only ones either, but for brevity and propriety’s sake, I’ll leave out the others. Simply put, anger sprayed like paintballs toward refs, players, the dirty and unconscionable play of Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison (watch here as Harrison punches the Cardinals’ Aaron Francisco in the neck – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCrAbErvQ54), and, for a moment, it was enough to make me feel better.

Alas, the anger was not enough, and like a Paris Hilton song, eventually left me unfulfilled. So I turned to step three, bargaining and step four, depression. The bargaining was little more than fevered thoughts of just what it would take to get the Cards to the big dance next season – draft picks, special diets, electric muscle implants for everyone but Larry Fitzgerald (he’s already electric). Then depression set in, basically a numbness to the whole entire mess.

But then, finally, after many days of this roller coaster, the last and final step of my grieving ended in acceptance, which is why I felt comfortable enough to write this column.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have come to terms with what the 2008-09 Arizona Cardinals were, and what they gave to their fans along the way.

In Phoenix on the day of the game, the city looked like the surface of Mars, truly a Red Planet. The guy stocking Cheez-Its at Wal-Mart was sporting Larry Fitz’s jersey. Across the street, eager consumers jockeyed for the best spot in line at a vendor tent selling Cards merchandise. Everywhere, there was red – hats, shirts, flags, even a few bold souls in red pants and wigs. Construction paper banners were hung in front of garages urging the Cards on.

This is what the Cards gave us this season. The ups and downs, hours of endless conversation, the amazing stories of Kurt Warner, Terrelle Smith, Edgerrin James, Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie and many more. Solid proof that if Larry Fitzgerald keeps on pulling in impossible catches and the Velcro stays on his hands, he could be one of the best ever.

On Super Bowl Sunday in Arizona, a state that is one of the hardest hit by the multiple collapses of our current economy, no one was a stranger. Everyone had something to talk about, someone to high-five. The Cards gave us that too-rare commodity — something to cheer. Even though they lost, they won. And I’m no longer angry.

Except at James Harrison.

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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