If we hadn’t, you know, been alive for the last few decades, you would have been hard-pressed to convince us the crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium should have been filled with tourists, out-of-town allegiances, and tens of thousands of six-foot-tall rabbits sitting next to each other.
Instead, we headed out to the first home playoff game in Arizona Cardinals history and found ourselves surrounded by exceptionally passionate and knowledgeable Arizona Cardinals fans desperate to witness what has never been seen before in the Valley desert: a winner in January. Not that there weren’t a few hints that this was the first playoff rodeo for some people…
For example, there were indeed a smattering of Falcons fans scattered about. However, we only saw sportsmanlike handshakes and polite kidding from most fans. We don’t quite understand why.
Nope, not at all. Baffling. Especially considering the Cardinal-on-Cardinal violence we spotted just to our right.
Attacking your own when there’s Falcons fans all about shows lack of playoff experience. We expect better next time.
According to local sports talk radio, the Phoenix Suns’ players expressed sincere excitement about attending the Cardinals’ playoff game against “the Hawks… I mean, the Falcons” (thanks, Amar’e). In fact, the local radio team was so excited about the Suns’ attending and possibly mingling among the people that they ran the same four drops incessantly on the drive in.
(Also, Shaq promised to bring “all my kids” to the game. We assume he lied because there were still empty seats.)
For all of these acts of amateurism in the face of playoff pressure, none could be worse than that shown by the Cardinals and/or the NFL themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, your halftime entertainment… Three Doors Down on a plank of plywood with wheels?
(Three Doors Down from 87,453 doors up and to the right)
The sound system, wheeled out in much the same fashion as the band itself, couldn’t possibly reach the top of the stadium. (Hard to believe these were the cheap seats now, no?) Then again, we were close enough to the catwalk security to shake hands. We suspect SETI messages from 1987 were just beginning to circle our section.
Not to carry on about the matter, but the seats also reminded us: cheerleaders are for television, not for paying patrons.
We’re not complaining, though, honestly, even though our level was marked by constellations. (We’re not kidding.) We got to hang with the people that truly cared.
As covered previously, the Cardinals’ win was prefaced on running the ball effectively and disrupting Matt Ryan on defense. That made it all the worse for the smartest Cardinals fan in the whole building to be trapped in the top row with us, grinding his teeth every time Kurt Warner set up in the shotgun or Ryan slipped a souffle into the oven inside the pocket.
Of course, all he could do was shrug and grin when Warner connected on 15-yarder after 15-yarder on the final drive. Oh, and celebrate… these Cardinals fans may not have much practice, but they know how to celebrate.
(Yes, that’s Coach Whisenhunt running down the length of the sideline, slapping hands with everyone he can reach)
How does one celebrate the biggest victory in geographically-limited franchise history? By heading to the mall next door, of course!
The football stadium and the hockey stadium are just part of the mixed-use excitement of Glendale’s
white elephant golden goose. There’s also condos of an especially non-descript nature and a phalanx of trendy eateries, shops, movie theater, etc.
(Welcome to the Glendale, AZ, sports mall, where your favorite team can be incidental!)
(Merry Christmas from the Southwest)
(Every table gets their own former athlete, television and/or journalism major desperate to pay off $80k in student loans and prove their parents wrong, and comely sideline reporter)
(Observant readers will spot the Brandon Jacobs and Donovan McNabb jerseys in the background; preternaturally wise readers will explain how the hell those two kids became friends)
We couldn’t stand the 90-minute wait to eat at another chain restaurant (the specialty of the Valley), no matter how hip. Therefore, we headed back past the people that really know how to tailgate…
… and then past people we’d be a little afraid to tailgate with…
… on our 27-mile walk back to our car. Uphill. In the sand. Look, if you’ll believe in Arizona Cardinals fans now, you’ll believe in anything. Have you met our friend?