Following the Cardinals’ mandatory minicamp, globetrotters Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson flew to Scotland to play at The Old Course in St. Andrew’s, the hallowed links-style course nestled beside the wind-swept waters of the Firth of Fife where centuries ago the game of golf began.
As they crossed the iconic Swilken Bridge on the 18th hole, one can imagine the two Cardinals were thinking of the famous champions who traversed that bridge on their way to hosting the Claret Jug—-which some consider to be the Holy Grail of all sports trophies. The American winners at the Old Course is a Hall of Fame in itself with champions such as Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, John Daly and Tiger Woods.
It must have been a surreal feeling for Fitz and Pat P. to walk up that 18th in utter and complete silence—-no crowds, no roaring grandstands, no standing ovations. Yet, the whispers of the fabled ghosts of the past must have raised goosebumps—-that and the bone chilling Scotland winds that blow the seaside gorse sideways and make the fairways fast as tabletops.
In the back of their minds may have been a stunning juxtaposition of the thought of playing the upcoming season in the national spotlight before millions of rabid fans and jam packed stadiums. Come Sunday September 9th at the University of Phoenix Stadium, Larry Fitzgerald resumes his 15 year gallop up the NFL WR record books and Patrick Peterson continues his quest to make his 8th straight Pro Bowl which at 29 years old (on July 11th) would tie him with Cardinals’ Hall of Famers Larry Wilson and Aeneas Williams.
While some may scoff at this notion, the game game of golf is actually an excellent preparation for one’s vocations and for life itself. Golf is the ultimate humbler—-and it is a game which challenges every fiber of one’s integrity. Ultimately, golf forces a player to be completely honest with himself, even to the point of assessing oneself a one shot penalty if the Scottish gales cause the ball to move while the player is addressing it. Golf, like life, isn’t always fair. It requires constant resiliency. It is also one of the world’s most formidable three to four hours tests of focus and stamina—-much like the game of football.
This weekend at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland an international field of the world’s top 156 golfers are playing in the 147th Open Championship. As I am writing this during the rain swept second round, the surprise co-leaders are Americans Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, with England’s young star Tommy Fleetwood one stroke behind and Irish superstar, Rory McIroy two behind. The number one ranked golfer in the world, USA’s Dustin Johnson, just finished the 2nd round at +6 and is not going to make the cut. The second ranked golfer, USA’s Justin Thomas, carded a 6 over 77 today and at +4 is teetering on the cut line.
Here’s my point—-there are going to be several surprises this season in the NFL. Last year, who ever thought the Eagles would win it all, especially with Nick Foles at QB, and that the Jaguars under QB Blake Bortles would have the lead late in the 4th quarter at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship game?
This is the great thing about new seasons and new opportunities. The Arizona Cardinals have been given the lowest odds of any team in the NFL to make the playoffs. However, the Cardinals have two players in Fitzgerald and Peterson who are making history and if they have their way—-so will the team. Fitzgerald was recently asked by the Minnesota media whether he will want to be a Viking in 2019, to which Fitzgerald said, ‘If I’m not playing in Arizona, I’m not playing anywhere.” When the elated Arizona Cardinals sent Fitz’s quote out in a tweet, Patrick Peterson retweeted it with the hashtag #Larry Legend. After all, Fitz and Pat P. want to keep walking together into history and carry the Cardinals on their backs, if necessary.