Recently, I read another fan post here, and thought I should answer. So and So asked why we were all Cardinals fans, and though I could, and perhaps should, have replied to the original article, as a newcomer to the community, I figured that this was as good a chance as any to introduce myself.
So why am I a Cardinals fan? More after the jump.
To start with, let's deal with the pleasantries. Hi. Nice to meet you. My name, that'd be Luke Bunger. I'm in my twenties, I'm married, and have a young daughter. Great. Now we're friends, lets move on to the important bits.
I've been a Cardinals fan since 2004, and a regular Cardinals writer and commenter, on Bleacher Report, SportsHaze and now ROTB, since 2009.
To explain what is the reason I am a Cardinals fan, perhaps it's easier tell you what it isn't.
Firstly, it isn't geographic. I live in Walsall. If you're struggling to figure our exactly where in America Walsall is, the reason you can't place it is because it isn't. It's in England. I live precisely 5156 miles away from Glendale, and yet am a die hard Arizona Cardinals fan.
I was introduced to gridiron football while in Canada touring with a traveling theatre company. We toured western and central Canada, and spent a few weeks in Minnesota too. The Vikings and Packers were always a possibility, and had we followed through, and actually visited either city while in the states, I'd probably be wearing a ridiculous cheese head or Helga hat right now. Fortunately for all of us, that never happened.
I'm also not a Cardinals fan because of any particular historical reason. I have no links to the team via their time in Chicago, St. Louis or even the oft ignored Card-Pitt era.
It goes without saying that I'm not a Cardinals fan because they were the most successful or recognizable team for a new fan to football. And as much as I love them, it's not like the Cardinals have the most eye catching name, uniform or logo.
You could argue that I was just lazy, and chose the first team in an alphabetical list. Scratch that, I am lazy, but even that doesn't account for it.
The main reason I started watching the Cardinals is actually quite simple. Larry Fitzgerald.
In 2004, some guys from Walsall started playing fantasy football with some of my friends from Canada. We knew nothing about the players, teams or in some cases even the sport, save what we garnered from the occasional game of Madden, and even more occasional Super Bowl highlights show, but we were up for a laugh.
By the end of the draft our teams were a mess. A defense went off the board in the first round, kickers were being traded for running backs. I think someone even dropped Peyton Manning to add a tight end one week. Our teams may have sucked, but we were having fun.
In 2004, only one of my draftees really shone, and that was Larry Fitzgerald. My mid round rookie pick was tearing up the league. I found myself watching more and more Cardinals games, because I knew it would mean fantasy points, which were otherwise few and far between.
But that explained why I am a Larry Fitzgerald fan, not a Cardinals fan. After all, Fitz has plenty of fans who can't stand our team.
The first, and perhaps most significant, reason is that I liked the way the Cardinals played, and still do. Though 2004 was a write-off for the team, it was still always fun. They played football the same way I played Madden. High energy, pass happy and at times without a regard for the consequences. Sure other teams were better, but my Cardinals were more fun. They made me smile in a way my cousin Matt's Patriots, my rival Simon's Steelers and my friend Joey's Colts, Rams and Ravens (he has a tendency to cheat on the teams he follows), never could.
Today, my tastes in football have been refined, but fortunately for me, my Cardinals have evolved with me. Today I know how to appreciate a good running game, clock management, subtle play calling and a great defense, but under Ken Whisenhunt, the team have learned to utilise all of these things.
Secondly, everyone loves an underdog, and few are bigger than the Arizona Cardinals. For the oldest continuously run professional football team in America, the team's record is woeful, yet, as our 2008 season proved, we have the potential to shock the world. I like that. We're the underdogs, for sure, but not a lost cause. There is still hope.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, I like the Cardinals culture. In a sport dominated by egocentric prima donna's, the Cardinals seem to have created a culture of professionalism, hard work and decency.
Though we have our fair share of stars, each one seems to know his place. Again, it starts with Larry Fitzgerald, the consummate professional, but seems to run to the heart of the team. That's not to say that their aren't characters on the team, as anyone who's ever followed Darnell Dockett on twitter will know, but even our most extreme characters seem to take their job very seriously, and that's no small ask, when your team has an all time record of 496-699-39.
What keeps me a fan is that win or lose, or perhaps that should read lose or even win, the team seems to keep it's head up, it's attitude positive and it's players motivated.
That positivity helps make it easy to continue to support a team, even when their record would make it easy to ditch them.
And that, in 1000 words or less, is why I'm a Cardinals fan, and why, win or lose, I will remain one until the day I die.