Being my first fan post for ROTB, some backround information is in order. My first memories of the Cardinals come from about 1970 -Jim Hart, Johnny Roland and the the legendary Larry Wilson. I loved playing football but as for watching it ,coverage was limited ( although I do remember that the Super Bowl champs would play an exhibition game vs. college all-stars; can you imagine that today ?). Then in 1974 came Don Coryell's 'Cardiac Cards' and a bond for life was formed. They started out 7 - 0 and I couldn't believe that the Cardinals were actually good. Terry Metcalfe was my favorite, instant excitement any time he touched the ball ( one year he threw a TD pass, and scored by running, catching, returning a punt and kick off , and recovered a fumble for TD !!). They won the NFC East that year and the next, which was no small feat considering Dallas and Washington were power houses (and would have won it in 1976 had it not been for two brutal losses to Wash. and Dallas 4 days apart ; still finishing 10 - 4 out of the playoffs). The 80's brought Ottis Anderson, Roy Green and Neil Lomax and a pretty good team but the division was head and shoulders above all other divisions in football. Every one of their rivals was good and the Cardinals were just pretty good. One game stands out and foreshadowed things to come for the next 25 years - 1984 the last game of the season, at the Redskins. The Cards need to win to get into the playoffs, lose and they tie for division title but lose tie breaker. After falling behind in the first half Neil Lomax comes out after half time and proceeds to have the second half of a life time, hitting Roy Green all over the field. I don't remember his stats but he did complete over 20 passes with only two incomplete for the half. With the game winding down and out of TOs they scramble for a last second game winning FG. They snap the ball, Neil O'Donoghue actually drills a game winner only to have it ruled the ball was snapped LESS THAN A SECOND too late. No win, no division title, no play offs because of less than a second !! My worst Cardinal loss before the Super Bowl.
I spent a lot of time on that one game because it was when my expectations for the Cards started to diminish. Poor coaching choices, moving to Phoenix, no more NFC East ( I'm a NYer -don't hold it against me) and just poor results on the field - save for one Jake Plummer year. Then came the move that has completely changed this organization - hiring Ken Whisenhunt (and the bonus of getting Russ Grimm ). These guys are winners, and have transformed this team into winners. My first 37 years as a fan saw one playoff victory and only three appearances. The 2008 run was magical in my eyes, once again I couldn't believe what was happening, like the little kid back in 1974. The Arizona Cardinals NFC Champs and in the Super Bowl -WOW ! Then the game itself starts with Pittsburgh marching down the field for two quick, easy TDs. This coaching staff responded like a prize fighter getting off the canvas after an early knock down. Not only did this team not roll over but it took that game back. The turnover and stomach churning return at half time and the final drive was all the Steelers had. The Cardinals did not win the game but they won more respect in the football world than they ever had before. They made the Super Bowl, deserved to be there and almost won it. They followed that up with another NFC West title and another playoff victory.
When the season ended and Warner retired, Boldin was traded, and Dansby and Rolle bolted via free agency I thought well it's been a nice run; considering what I had put up with for the past almost 40 years. This coaching staff had a plan and it's a much better one than I thought possible. Yes I can't wait for this season because this team is in the most capable hands I have witnessed. They have drafted as well as any team for the past 6 years, built from within and have quality in reserve to boot. Now if we can stay healthy,minimize turn overs and get a decent year from Leinert we should be back in the playoffs for the third consecutive year. There is no reason not to expect this to happen. It's a great feeling to have pride and expectations for your team and I for one truly appreciate it. Nobody has ever called me a front runner when it comes to football, hopefully one day they will; as I think more and more will eventually be jumping on the Cardinal band wagon. Thank You Coach Whisenhunt you are by far the best thing to happen to the Cardinals. Now go out there and kick some ass; I expect it to happen.