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Who Is Kliff Kingsbury?

As The Who ask: “Who are you? Who-Who, Who-Who?”

We Arizona Cardinals fans are 20 months into Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure as head coach and I would like to respectfully ask each and every one of you—-what kind of a handle do you have on whom exactly the coach and the person Kliff Kingsbury is?

From my perspective—-Kliff Kingsbury, like his innovative offense at times, is full of surprises. I mean who would have thought the highest graded player in Kingsbury’s inaugural NFL season would have been a blocking TE?

Kingsbury vowed to adapt his offense to the strengths of his personnel. Truth.

However, if I were to write up my own dictionary, if you were to look up the word “enigma”, the photo above of Kingsbury at his K-Krib would be sitting right next to it.

From what I have read about Kliff Kingsbury’s childhood—-he was a classic “mama’s boy” who on the athletic fields was always trying to live up to the high expectations of his parents , Sally and Tim (his high school football coach) and his older brother, Klint.

Therefore, one can just imagine how devastated Kliff, at age 24, was to lose his mom, to cancer, in much the same way Larry Fitzgerald was, at age 20, to lose his mom.

By all accounts, Sally Kingsbury, was a beacon of pure light. At Southwest Texas St., Sally was the captain of The Strutters, the university’s highly regarded dance team. As one of the university’s ace scholars, she received the Lyndon B. Johnson’s Scholar award, give annually to the top student in the government program.

In the summer of 1973, Sally married Tim Kingsbury, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran (Purple Heart recipient), whom she met while studying at SWTS. When she landed a job as the government teacher at New Braunfels High School, Tim was hired as an elementary teacher and football coach.

As we all know—-QB Kyler Murray is a football icon in the state of Texas for going 43-0 and leading Allen High School to three straight state championships.

But, in some respects, Kliff Kingsbury’s and his dad’s story at New Braunfels High School were equally astonishing. Just prior to Kingsbury’s senior year at NBHS, the school was bumped up to the highest division in the state. The school’s boosters were extremely upset about the promotion—-because they feared that the school wouldn’t win a game.

Instead, Kliff Kingsbury led the team to a 13-2 record and a berth in the Class 5A semi-finals at the Astrodome (thanks to avenging their only previous loss to San Antonio powerhouse McArthur H.S. in a triple OT thriller in the first round of the playoffs). After the season Kliff went on to win the MVP award at the Texas High School Coaches All-Star game.

But—-Kliff’s outstanding achievement on the gridiron wasn’t necessarily what Sally Kingsbury was most proud of. Academically, her son was following very closely in her footsteps. He graduated #3 in a class of 450 students and was selected to the Academic All-State team.

Perhaps the most daunting irony these days for Kliff Kingsbury is the fact that he at age 40 (he turns 41 on Sunday) has yet to start a family of his own—-which has long been at the top of his list of life goals.

Likened face-wise by many to Hollywood move star, Ryan Gosling, Kliff Kingsbury has never had a difficult time attracting women.

One of the main reasons why Kingsbury elected to take the offensive coordinator job at USC was so that he could spend his free time building up a social life—-something that with his highly disciplined work ethic and daily schedule (which starts each morning with a run on the treadmill at 5 am), is a challenge to achieve.

When Kingsbury was snatched away from USC by the Cardinals, the rumor was that he was dating Fox reporter Holly Sonders, who tweeted the day Kingsbury signed with the Cardinals that “things were getting hotter in Arizona” because of Kliff Kingsbury’s arrival—-and her message was adorned by flames.

The rumor these days is that Kingsbury is dating Instagram model Renee Estella:

Which gets us to the subject of the K-Krib.

I don’t know about you, but I found Kingsbury’s staged draft day image of him chilling at his stunning Scottsdale abode, ironic and strangely out of character.

The irony is that Kingsbury, who is typically cautious about admitting his feelings, revealed during a podcast shortly after his first season with Cardinals ended that when his much anticipated Air Raid offense with Kyler Murray at QB was doing a bellyflop for the first three quarters in game one versus the Lions, he honestly started wondering whether he was going to lose his job and his house. He said he was feeling especially embarrassed for Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim, his new bosses who had the courage to hire hm.

After the image of him at his house was displayed during ESPN’s coverage of the 2020 NFL Draft and received such avid national attention on social media, Kingsbury ho-hummed it by claiming that the quarantined fans were just “bored” and had little else to chatter about.

But, who knows what Kingsbury’s true motivation was in staging this photo—-which he recently explained to NFL Network (per Pro Football talk): “I do think the fire — it was 100 degrees and sunny — was a bit much, but I laid four phones on the table because the NFL gave us a couple . . . all the screens, I just wanted to make it as extra as possible and it turned out good. It made for fun. The NFL only allowed us to have one person at the house or I might’ve had some people on the float swans in the back, or a DJ, really doing it big. There’s always next year, hopefully.”

Was Kingsbury trying to taunt his detractors who were very vocal as to how he would never make it in the NFL because he never deserved to be hired as an NFL head coach—-in a kind of “look at me now” moment?

Was Kingsbury trying to create a case for becoming one USA’s most talked about bachelors and members of the nouveau-riche? In a somewhat similar social vein, he certainly seemed to be proud of this moment with former teammate Tom Brady at the Kentucky Derby last year:

Or—-was he simply just trying to amuse the fans and perhaps his coaches, staff and players on the Cardinals?

The truth of the matter is—-there are a number of Kingsbury’s players on the Cardinals who can afford much more elaborate mountainside mansions. But, on draft night Kliff’s K-Krib was a stunning juxtaposition to the shots of the GMs’ and other head coaches’ living rooms.

To be perfectly honest—-for fans like myself who believe that one of Kingsbury’s most endearing qualities is his modesty—-the image of K2 chilling the first night of the draft in his exotic palazzo seems very much out of character for a guy who publicly doesn’t seem to want to let people know too much about him.

Which makes me wonder just how practiced Kingsbury is , as the Stones would say, in “the art of deception.”

Last year he seemed perfectly at ease disguising the team’s latent interest in Kyler Murray.

Last year he wanted to keep his NFL version of the K-Raid such a secret that he decided not to practice any of it in the pre-season games—-a decision that he has said he wound up regretting.

At his press conferences, Kingsbury is about as terse and perfunctory as coaches get, save Bill Belichick.

And as a play caller—-Kingsbury relishes the art of surprise.

Want the tour of the K-Krib?

Who is Kliff Kingsbury?

I think that at heart he will always be this guy here—-the modest mastermind who makes things interesting—-and the catalyst who wishes to keep the game surprisingly fun: