I consider myself a very forgiving and forgetting person, probably because it takes to much energy to keep a grudge. Yet if you want to make my blood pressure rise, my fists clench, and my anger roar, then mention the words Pittsburgh Steelers. I will shut my eyes the millisecond NFl Network shows that Super Bowl touchdown that crushed our dreams. I can't stand this team known as the Steelers and yet somehow here I am typing up an article on how our beloved Cardinal's team is becoming a mirror imaged of Super Bowl rival.
Comparisons always bring controversy. Think about all the Michael Jordan comparisons that stir up emotion or anytime we like to compare Eli and Peyton. Some will agree and some won't. I understand if you don't see eye to eye with my observation but keep your mind open. You see, culture change is constant in this world and we either fight it or embrace. We are experiencing a very positive culture change here in the Arizona Sports Atmosphere and I would say we have embraced it. The way we view the Cardinals and our expectations have changed over the past few years and more and more we are looking like another sport's team culture across the country.
There is the first and most obvious point in this comparison, and that would be our team's personal. Most articles that have made the Arizona/Pittsburgh comparison only cover this one point. In our coaches we have Whisenhunt, Grimm, and Horton. Our current players from Pittsburgh are Nick Eason, Clark Haggans, and William Gay. But just because they are from the Steeler's team doesn't bring too much to the argument, rather, it's the ideals they brought with them. Whisenhunt brought a winning philosophy here to the desert and quickly changed us around. His "pass happy" offense may be very different from Pittsburgh's style of play but his expectations of winning seasons are the same expectations found in the town of Pittsburgh. Remember the days we were so open to poke fun of the way we lost game after game. We were alright with the status quo of losing season after season. Well that joke has gotten old now and we expect better. These expectations don't only come from our head coach but from the man who can be credited with our remarkable turnaround in defense.
Ray Horton is from the Steelers and has given the gift of a dominant defense. It's what Pittsburgh is best known for. The Steal Curtain. Defense wins championships. We are moving from the idea that we can play shootout with our opponent. We want to be that dominant defense and the expectations are in the players and fans. Each time I'm at the training camp I hear others and also find myself cheering for the defense. We don't want top 10 defense, we expect to be in the top 5. Crazy right? We are shifting to a defensive power mindset and which has never been spotted in the desert.
A culture change always comes with the changer and the one embracing the change. Us, the fans, the Red Sea have helped in this mindset shift (good job!). If you have been to training camp this year then you know that it's been packed! I recently went today, a Wednesday afternoon, and it was filled with fans. The fans are investing huge amount of time to see our Cardinals in action and it amazes me to see this change. I was sitting next to an elderly group of people today at the camp and they kept going on about how "back in the day, nobody showed up to these!" It's true, very few people showed up back in the day of Cardinals of old. This year we are waiting and watching for something great. It's what we expect now. You would have to be foolish to yell "band wagon!" after a season start like last year. It's amazing, I believe the Super Bowl bandwagon is empty. The fans are true and dedicated now. I gain a bit of joy anytime I see a young fan wearing Cardinal's apparel. Whenever I drive around Phoenix and see the countless Cardinal's license plates and huge bumper stickers I see a new culture. No longer is Arizona that melting pot of fans. We don't have to be a second home to Bear's, Cowboy's and even Steeler's fans. We are the Cardinal's home. It seems we have finally grasped the idea of a home team. There is dedication to this team. Huge turnouts even during uncertainty at important positions in the team and another season that we have missed the playoffs shows that we no longer accept losing. It's the same mindset of the crazy Terrible Towel wavers. The culture here is new and exciting for us. Let's embrace it even if we are a bunch of copy cats.