Shhh … wait, Cardinals fans, try whispering it instead.
Super Bowl …
Nah, hell, after all the years Cardinals fans have spent whispering their allegiance, it just sounds better LOUD!
In case that little diatribe wasn’t clue enough, here’s the skinny — the Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl.
The Cardinals, the Wile E. Coyotes of the National Football League, for decades consistently pummeled by the oncoming trains and dropped boulders that were their gridiron opponents, beat the Philadelphia Eagles 32-25 on Sunday, booking themselves a flight to Tampa Bay and Super Bowl XLIII.
The best thing is, no one thought they could get this far.
Before the first round of the playoffs, analysts were roundly predicting the 9-7 Cardinals would be ousted by rookie sensation Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.
The Cards beat the Dirty Birds convincingly at home, 30-24, and still no one believed.
In perusing pregame analysis and opinion on the next game, a road trip to the then-12-4 Carolina Panthers, only one sportscaster / writer / man-in-a-suit thought Arizona had a Popsicle’s chance in Hades.
The man who did – Keyshawn Johnson. Don’t be fooled by his eggplant-purple formalwear or HyperColor ties; that day, the man knew what he was doing.
The Cardinals thumped the shell-shocked Panthers 33-13, forcing quarterback Jake Delhomme to throw five interceptions and cough up a fumble. On his birthday.
Respect was still elusive, however, as about two-thirds of “industry professionals” predicted Donovan McNabb and the united-by-not-shaving Eagles would be the end of the line for the Cards.
Despite allowing the growth of enough body hair to cover one of Robin Williams’ arms, the Beard-Birds went down swinging in the fourth quarter, watching as Tim Hightower’s TD catch put the game out of reach.
Which brings us to Feb. 1’s matchup between Arizona and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers are predicted to win by a touchdown, according to the great gambling minds in Las Vegas.
Which, in the mind of this writer, is fantastic.
Don’t give us your respect. We don’t want or need it, and frankly, the last time the Cards got a taste of that type of sweet recognition after clinching the NFC West, they took their foot off the pedal so fast it looked like they might not reach it again.
So bring on your Terrible Towels. Bring on gutty but oft-concussed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Bring on the flowing locks and acrobatic leaps of safety Troy Polamalu. Make the Steelers think they’re shoe-ins, and the Cardinals believe you think they’re something unpleasant on a shoe’s sole.
At 4:28 p.m. two weeks from now, I’ll take Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Bertrand Berry, Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower.
While the prognosticators go about the business of telling everyone who will listen that the Cardinals are no-count pretenders, let’s make it count, Cardinals fans.
Think of it. No more having to listen to the scads of Arizona-based Dallas Cowboys fans. No more forcing yourself to smile at the latest jibe from a sneering Giants fan. Wear your colors with pride, free from threat of comment on the Cards’ never-ending ineptitude or Bill Bidwell’s vertigo-inducing bowties.
This is our time, Arizona. We’ve waited decades to be able to hurl comebacks like “Oh really? What’s your team doing this weekend?” Or my personal favorite, two simple words that are now ours, if only for a fleeting moment.