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One in a Million Cardinals

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals-Rookie Minicamp Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With yesterday’s reports from The Rich Eisen Show where Josh Rosen, in the wake of his trade to the Dolphins and the aftermath of what has been perceived as the Cardinals’ cruel and unusual treatment of Rosen during the 10 week Kyler Murray to Arizona speculation, lamented the fact that he has yet to hear “from my old GM”---plus---continued chatter that voluntary OTAs no-show, Patrick Peterson, remains upset at the Cardinals’ organization which has refueled possible trade rumors---the Cardinals keep finding themselves is an all too familiar public relations firestorm.

It seems the Cardinals have a way of infuriating present and former players to the point where the disgruntled ones who are currently on the team can’t wait to leave and the ones who are long gone still cannot stop griping over past treatments.

Same old same old Cardinals, according to some.

To be frank, in terms of national perception, for right or for wrong, team owner and president Michael Bidwill and GM Steve Keim are considered clueless with regard to how to make and keep a franchise competitive. Over the past year their reputations have taken major hits---Bidwill received some significant backlash for his public SCOTUS endorsement of his old prep school buddy, Brett Kavanaugh and Steve Keim was arrested and briefly incarcerated for a “severe DUI.”

Bidwill and Keim made a series of head-scratching moves last off-season that led to the team’s worst performance during the new stadium era. Fans were already booing by half-time of the first game. And, as the season wore on, the boos from the Red Sea were replaced by cheers from swarms of opposing fans.

Following the season, Bidwill and Keim looked foolish in having to fire first year head coach, Steve Wilks, in making him the major scapegoat and then dismissing the Cardinals’ recent management failures by lauding their past successes.

Even though many NFL pundits and fans are fascinated by the Cardinals’ 2019 reset with Kliff Kingsbury as head coach and Kyler Murray as QB1---the naysayers are still laughing at the Cardinals for hiring a losing college head coach who was fired by his alma mater and for trading away the QB they gave a 1st, 3rd and 5th round draft picks for just one year ago in order to draft at the smallest QB to come into the league since Doug Fluitie---with the #1 pick no less. Doug Flutie, a Hesiman Trophy winner, was the #285th player taken (11th round) of the 1985 NFL Draft.

Yet---times have changed---because the nature of NFL offenses has changed.

Despite all of the past misgivings about the Cardinals and Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim---even NBC’s Peter King said that he can’t wait to see all of the Cardinals’ games this season because of his fascination with Kingsbury and Kyler.

There is no denying that Kliff Kingsbury, despite his record as a college head coach, and Kyler Murray, despite his diminutive physical stature, are unicorns in a stampede of NFL equines. If and when both of them hit their stride, they could race ahead of the pack with their innovative, acrobatic, high-flying, swift-scoring, fast-break attack.

But, Kingsbury and Kyler both have something very special in common, aside from their creative command of Xs and Os---they thrive on the personal connections they make with the members of their team. Building meaningful relationships to them---is where winning starts.

Look at the classy way in which Kingsbury communicated with Josh Rosen during and after the draft. Clearly, his brief relationship with Josh meant something meaningful to him. This is a manifestation of why Kingsbury is called “Coach Bro.” He has said repeatedly that he wanted to become a coach because of the relationship his father had built over the years with players and parents and fans. Kingsbury was ingenuous when he kept saying through the months of February and March that he couldn’t wait to meet the team.

A few Cardinals players have already expressed their enthusiasm for the fact that Kingsbury actually stops in the hallways to talk to them.

Look at how different Kliff Kingsbury’s phone conversation were with the Cardinals’ draft picks. Let me put it to you this way---if you were the player on the other end of the line, how excited would you be, not only to play for Kliff Kingsbury, but to be around him on a daily basis?

What’s so refreshing about Kingsbury, and you can tell with the enthusiastic way in which he talks about players and the way talks directly to the players, that he genuinely understands their motivations. Man, if we could all have bosses like that, right?

As for Kyler, it is meaningful that he has been downplaying the talk about him being the starter from day one. Sure, he expects to be the starter. But, it’s out of his homage for competition, his understanding of teamwork and his respect for his teammates that he wants to be treated like everyone else. This is why Kyler could be the ultimate point guard as an NFL QB---his aim is to set all of his teammates up for success. Look what he did in Oklahoma---he fed the ball to 4 teammates who gained over 1,000 years and scored 10 or more TDs---plus he ran himself for more than 1,000 yards and scored over 10 TDs on runs. Listen to what Lincoln Riley had to say about Kyler’s leadership.

Leadership doesn’t happen just because a player is driven to win. Leadership happens when the player finds the common bonds and respect with his teammates that allow a team to play with passion and purpose.

Funny, but just yesterday, I discovered something that I believe is an auspicious harbinger.

Just when I was thinking that Kingsbury and Kyler were one in a million Cardinals, a good friend sent me this article on Facebook. I didn’t know there were yellow cardinals! Did you? They are called “one in a million cardinals,” because those are the odds of ever seeing one. And, guess where this one was spotted????

In Nashville, Tennessee. Of all places---the very place where the dream of uniting Kingsbury with Kyler---two one in a million Cardinals---came true.

Do you know that according to time-old myths and traditions, cardinals symbolize renewal, good health, happy relationships, loyalty and protection. Maybe, just maybe, then, two one in a million Cardinals acting as one can change the entire perception of a long-beleaguered NFL franchise.