The Arizona Cardinals have been building something special this season. While it is highly understandable that QB Kyler Murray, WR DeAdnre Hopkins and S Budda Baker have been receiving the majority of national media attention, their special teams’ captain and situational edge pass rusher, Dennis Gardeck, is quickly building a local and national fan base.
No one, other than the Gardeck family, is happier to see Dennis Gardeck making highlight reel plays than the Cardinals’ Arizona Sports Radio 98.7 FM host and game day color commentator Ron Wolfley—-because it takes a four time special teams’ Pro Bowler like Wolf to smell a kindred special teams’ “barbarian” as Wolf did almost from the moment that Gardeck arrived as an undrafted free agent in 2018 via West Virginia Stare University and Sioux Falls.
When Wolf saw Gardeck as a no-name rookie during the 2018 pre-season screaming down the field with his long blonde hair streaming out like feathery wings from the back of his helmet and then making big ba-boom hits on the return man—-right then and there—-Wolf nicknamed the young strapping lad “Gardeck The Barbarian.”
This video will tell you all you need to know about Gardeck’s “See Ball-Get Ball” mentality—-and you can hear Wolf shouting our “Gardeck the Barbarian” at the 1:28 mark after the rookie linebacker made a game saving tackle at the goal line in a pre-season game versus the Chargers:
This Barbarian can flat-out tackle.
When Gardeck was apprised of his new sobriquet, courtesy of “America’s Fullback”, Ron Wolfley, Gardeck was still worried he might get cut from the team, but in honor of Wolf and the Barbarian moniker, Gardeck vowed to let his hair out even longer, both literally and figuratively.
Gardeck not only made the 53 man roster in 2018, he generated one of the most exciting plays during a 3 win season mostly void of exciting plays when he blocked this punt up in Seattle:
In his 2nd year, Dennis Gardeck was so consitently good on special teams that he earned a Pro Bowl nod as an alternate. He raised his very good 72.7 2018 PFF STs grade to an outstanding 84.0 in 2019.
Late last season, in an interview with Lisa Matthews, Gardeck told the story of how one of his coaches at West Virginia St. suggested that he learn all he could about Pat Tillman because the coach saw some parallels in Dennis’ all-out football style and his academic achievement (3.92 GPA at WV St.). Amazing to think that—-not only would Dennis Gardeck have the opportunity to pause by Pat Tillman’s locker ever day at the Cardinals’ facility, but —-he would also have a West Virginia college connection, albeit at different universities, with Ron Wolfley (WVU). Small world, eh?
Funny, but Gardeck revealed in this video that he hadn’t had a haircut in 3 years because he dreads (bad pun, I apologize) going to the barber for fear of now knowing how to small talk and worrying about having to say the haircut “looks great” when he thinks it looks like sh^&.
This season has brought longer hair and be a stunning breakthrough for Dennis Gardeck. The Cardinals made a concerted effort to stockpile the roster with the best special teams players. It therefore was a considerable coup that Dennis was named the captain of “teams.”
In recent weeks, after All Pro defensive captain Chandler Jones was lost for the season due to a torn biceps, who came right in to pick up the slack and the team’s morale, just when the team needed it most?
Here’s the proof—-following Dennis’ 2 sack debut versus the Jets as an edge rusher:
No one deserves it more. Game ball goes to @DGardeck.#VictorySpeech x #RedSea pic.twitter.com/m3Xr6ZyJwm— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) October 11, 2020
Interesting that Kliff Kingsbury said he saw Dennis at 5 AM that game day morning while on his way to breakfast—-that’s something Pat Tillman would do, show up for breakfast at 5 AM on game day.
Gardeck almost had two sacks of the Cowboys’ Andy Dalton in the 1st quarter of the Cardinals’ 38-10 win Monday night, one of which was oh so close to being a safety (see photo above).
Now that Dennis Gardeck is thiving as the captain of ”teams” and is carving a valuable niche as a nickel pass rusher, he is a superb candidate to be the next core player the Cardinals sign to a multi-year deal. He is a restricted free agent in 2021 (4th season)—-thus this should behoove Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim to order a new Cardinals’ pen and signing case with Gardeck’s name on it.
Hey Cardinals, pay the Barbarian!
Send Agents, Pens and Money!
Just imagine what a surreal sight this would be:
“I saw a werewolf and a barbarian drinking piña coladas at Trader Vic’s—-
And their hair—-was perfect.”
Thank you, Warren Zevon.