Recently I did an interview with Andrew Kamenetzky, a writer for ESPN The Magazine, about what it meant to me being an Arizona Cardinals Fan. Some questions he asked were:
2. How long had I been a fan of the Big Red?
3. How was I able to continue to love my team in the face of such overwhelming disappointment?
4. Have I ever thought about just giving up on them?
You know………the standard 3rd degree you get from anybody when you tell them that you are a Cards fan. It’s not that Andrew was being rude or mean, quite the opposite, he was absolutely fascinated to learn about the mindset of the devoted fans of the most hard-luck franchise in the NFL. He wanted to know my perspective on how I saw this team, what made them my team, and what I saw for them in the future. Now I was happy to offer up my two cents to him about what being a member of the Red Bird nation meant to me, but I had a realization during the middle of our conversation: EVERYONE WHO WATCHES THE NFL IS AN ARIZONA CARDINALS FAN!!!
Now stay with me on this one, because I truly mean that. I believe that due to the franchise’s trek down the path of futility since it’s arrival in the desert back in 1987, that the Cards have slowly but surely become the lovable losers that everyone cheers for at the end of the movie. Think about it, nobody hates the Cards. Nobody has ever really had a reason to. As we already know from prior discussions on this site, the Cards have no real rivalry with any other franchise out there, and they have won so few games in the past twenty years, that they have never been a team of concern for opposing organizations. And with the few exceptions of effectively knocking San Francisco out of the playoff picture last year and eliminating the Minnesota Vikings from the playoffs on the final play of the year in 2003, the Cardinals have consistently been ineffectual against much of the NFL.
Okay, we know all of that. But why do sportswriters, bloggers, so-called experts, analysts and every other opinion stater in the football world always pick the Cards as their “sleeper team” when they know it will lead to their complete and utter destruction at the end of the regular season? Why? Because they want the Cardinals to break through, they want them to win, they are rooting for them to win not because they just want to be right in their predictions, but because the rest of the country is as tired of seeing this franchise suffer as its own fans are. The Cardinals have slowly and methodically become the underdog that everyone can get behind.
Just think about it for a second. During the Fox halftime show or CBS halftime report, when the commentators are giving a wrap-up of other games around the league, Terry Bradshaw or Greg Gumbel always seem to have a little more excitement and surprise when they are reporting a score that has Arizona on top of its opponent. Now the surprise in their voices seems normal, but the excitement is worth noting. The intonation tells you that they are glad that this team is winning and that they hope the Cards will pull it out. Ask anyone and they will tell you, they don’t hate the Cardinals, nobody does; And unless you’re team is in the NFC West or they happened to be playing your team on Sunday, you kind of feel good when they win. You’ll say, “hey good for them” or “I’m glad they were able to pull one out.”
Actual Example: Everyone in the country (except for Chicago) wanted the Arizona to win during that Monday night meltdown last October. It was a heartbreaking loss, which has become commonplace to the Cards faithful. But what it really did was elevate our plight in such a noticable way, that it inadvertantly made instant Zona fans out of NFL viewers. Now the rest of the country knows how we have suffered and they don’t want it to happen anymore. The sports world is ready and willing to see a winner in Arizona.
AND SO ARE WE!!!!!!