When one is faced with the ultimate test of courage, what motivates a teammate to put aside his doubts and fears, so he can help his team win the battle and capture the flag?
Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage is of the most enlightening portrayals of the precise kind of motivation it takes for a man to put aside his most daunting fears for the benefit of his team.
Crane’s novel focuses on the plight of young Union soldier named Henry Fleming. Henry’s primary motivation for enlisting was his vision of grandeur; he lusted for the opportunity to return to his hometown a war hero and the recipient of a welcome home parade.
Once Henry joins the 304th regiment, he is astounded to learn that for days on end they are sitting around waiting to be called into action. During the interim, Henry starts to question whether he has the courage to fight through thick and thin —- or whether he will panic and flee. When he asks his fellow soldiers whether they would ever run, Jim Conklin, the “tall soldier” says, “I’spose of the regiment runs, I’ll run.” This comforts Henry. But, Henry’s comfort is dashed when Wilson, the “loud soldier” cries, “Run? Of course NOT!”
When the 304th finally engages in their first battle, Henry hangs tough for a short while, but then he runs as fast as his feet can carry him when he feels like he was “in the face of impending annihilation.” He winds up running deep into the woods where he is frightened by the sight of a dead soldier who is propped up against a tree. The soles of the soldier’s shoes are bare, which gives Henry an indication that running into isolation could also be deadly.
Therefore, Henry feels it is wise to try to return to his regiment. Along the way, he encounters another fleeing soldier and when Henry tries to stop the soldier to ask why he is running, the fleeing soldier hammers Henry on the side of the head with the butt of his rifle.
Henry incurs a bloody wound, and just as he is starting to shake off his dizziness, a “cheery soldier” appears and escorts Henry back to the regiment where Wilson, of all soldiers, helps Henry dress and gauze his wound. We see a stunning role reversal here because Wilson assumed that Henry was wounded in battle and thereby displays a new-found respect for Henry, while Henry snaps at Wilson for not dressing his wound properly.
Thus, Henry suddenly feels a tincture of empowerment now that he is sporting his “red badge of courage” and looking the part of the courageous war hero he once dreamed of being. But, deep in his heart, Henry remains fearful that he is a coward.
Everything changes for Henry when he and Wilson are filling their canteens up in a nearby brook and they hear the general say to his colonel that the plan is to send the 304th regiment as sacrificial lambs into the front line of the next battle because “they are the most expendable: and because “they are bunch of mule drivers.”
Henry and Wilson are so incensed by the general calling their regiment a “bunch of mule drivers” that a powerful sense of pride emerges.
Despite knowing that they are likely going to be dead ducks for being the first regiment to charge from the front line, Henry and Wilson fire up the regiment and fight so bravely that Henry volunteers to be the “color bearer” (soldier who carries the Union flag —- the very object the confederates are aiming to capture) and they get so deep into enemy territory that Wilson is able to wrest the confederate flag away from the rebel soldier who had a near death grip on it. In dong so, the 304th regiment wins the battle and soon after the Union is declared the winner of the Civil War.
In the midst of the ensuing celebration, Henry marvels at the thought that his ultimate motivation to conquer his fears was the pride he felt in his fellow men —- and that because of his belief in his fellow men, he became a worthy man himself.
The last time the Arizona Cardinals were in a position to make NFL history was on the eve of their 2015 NFC Championship game versus the Carolina Panthers.
Here is the famous speech that fallen hero Tyrann Mathieu (his red badge of courage symbolized by the crutches to his side) delivered to his teammates:
“It’s the moment, dawg.”
“Y’all desire to be champs, bro.”
“I try my best not to come around cause it hurts so much.”
“But, I know y’all got me, dawg.”
“But, it ain’t about T (me).” (pounding his chest)
“That’s all I read in the headlines —- do (win) it for him (me).”
“It ain’t about me.”
“Cause I ain’t doing it for me.”
“I’m f’n doin’ it for y’all.”
“So, y’all do do this for each other, man.”
“At the end of the day, that’s all we got.”
“This is how people are going to remember us.”
“This has got to mean so much to us, bro.”
“We’re so close, dawg.”
The Honey Badger knows what it takes.
And if the Arizona Cardinals are ever going to claim the flag, the ultimate motivator has to be the team’s insatiable desire to “do this for each other.”
Individual accolades in a team sport are great and all, but no NFL player gets to the Pro Bowl or earns a bronze bust in Canton without the support of his teammates and coaches.
Sure, an NFL player can feel a great sense of satisfaction when he is recognized as an all-star by his peers and by the national media.
But, truly, in a team sport, is there any greater joy than seeing the sheer elation on one’s teammates’ faces during the celebratory aftermath of a spectacular team victory?
As avid members of the Birdgang and splendid drops of water in the Red Sea we all have the distinction of being the Cardinals’ 12th man. We’re on the team too, dawgs!
Therefore, what to date has been your happiest post-game moment as an Arizona Cardinals’ fan?
For me, there is no doubt —- it was watching Adrian Wilson crying tears of joy amidst the shower of red and white confetti after the Cardinals had beaten the Eagles 32-25 in the 2008 NFC Championship game.
Want to remember the goosebumps? (Just if you even flash on it for a few plays!)
You might recall, that Adrian Wilson couple of years previously had been questioned by the national media for re-signing with the lowly Cardinals when he could have signed with a Super Bowl favorite.
Thus, Wilson had stuck with the Cardinals and now he and his Cardinals’ teammates were NFC Champions and headed to Super Bowl XLIII.
I was crying tears of joy with AW that day. I imagine many of you were as well. Seeing the pure joy and excitement in his face was a dream come true.
Unfortunately, this utter feeling of euphoria for me was mitigated somewhat the next day by learning that one of Wilson’s high profile teammates was skipping out the back door to avoid the celebration due to his frustration with team management over his contract situation.
Whether the player’s frustration with team management was justified or not, it’s highly regrettable that the player elected not to celebrate with his teammates —- for their sake, just as much for his own.
If the Cardinals are ever going to finish the deal and win their first ever Super Bowl, they need to be of one mind, of one spirit and of the one desire, as the Honey Badger said, to “do it for each other.”
Encouraging Signs for 2021 Arizona Cardinals:
- Kyler Murray seeing whatever accolades he receives (ROY, 5 x NFL OPOW, Pro Bowl) as a positive refection of the Cardinals’ offense as a whole.
- D.J. Humphries standing up for his coaches by saying to fans if they are against the coaches, then “you are against us.”
- DeAndre Hopkins to J.J. Watt:”Let’s finish what we started.”
Just posted on DeAndre Hopkins IG. pic.twitter.com/ApHNabinMB— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) February 16, 2021
- Justin Pugh after taking a pay cut following his best season as a Cardinal and tweeting: “I love Arizona and want to finish my career here. Now let’s go win a ring.”
- Kelvin Beachum after re-signing for 2 years with the Cardinals saying how much he loves Arizona and how “I wouldn’t play RT for any other coach than Sean Kugler.”
- All Pro C Rodney Hudson saying he can’t wait to get to know his teammates on the offensive line —- that for him it’s the brotherhood of his fellow linemen that makes playing so much fun and gratifying.
- Markus Golden saying there is no other team he wants to play for: “When the Cardinals came and traded for me, it was a blessing because it was like, ‘Who else is going to come save me and get me out of a situation like this?’ The Cardinals,” Golden said. “So, it was a blessing. Wasn’t nobody else would have saved me from that. “There were times where I thought, ‘Man, after this year, I’m going to retire and hang it up,’ because I play the game to compete, man, and I felt like I wasn’t allowed to do that out there. Once I’m not allowed to do that, it kind of made me not want to play. Being able to come back here and play for the Cardinals, it got me back going. It got me back motivated, it got me back to my old self and I was able to go out there and compete like I knew I could.”
- J.J. Watt for being an active contributor and advocate of the Pat Tillman foundation and an avid fan of Kyler Murray as key reasons for him choosing the Cardinals. “The longer I looked at it, the more it just, signs kept pointing back down here,” Watt said. “There’s a lot of exciting things about what’s happening down here in Arizona. I’ve always said you have to have a quarterback in this league to have a chance, and there’s a young, extremely talented quarterback here who can do big things and is going from Year 2 to Year 3 and can take an even bigger jump to continue to grow and progress and be even better. Then you’ve got DeAndre Hopkins who’s one of the best wide receivers in the league, I’m obviously very familiar with.”
- J.J. Watt: “You’ve got a defensive scheme that’s led by Vance Joseph, who I was with my first three years down in Houston under Wade Philips,” Watt explained. “And Vance runs a similar scheme to Wade, which is a scheme I’m very familiar with and very comfortable with and excited to play in. You got guys like Chandler Jones and Budda Baker and guys all over that defense that are really young and exciting guys ready to get after it and ready to fly around and make some plays. I’m just very excited to be here and I’m also not going to lie to you, it doesn’t hurt when it’s 65 degrees and sunny outside when I woke up this morning. It’s pretty nice.”
- J.J. Watt: “It never hurts to have one of the best wide receivers in the game going out there and stumping for you, especially a guy who’s a friend that I’ve known for a very long time,” Watt said. “It doesn’t hurt to have a guy that can catch a ball anywhere on the field and score touchdowns and catch a Hail Mary over three guys, that doesn’t hurt either to have on your team. I’m very excited to be back on the team with him. I’m very excited to be able to have a front row seat to watching the plays that he makes, especially with him and Kyler connecting and some of the things that they’re able to do between the two of them on the field in Kliff (Kingsbury)’s offense. I’m excited about that and it’ll be nice to have a little Gatorade on the bench and just watch them go to work.”
- Chandler Jones:
- Budda Baker:
- Budda Baker: “Last year we didn’t compete as good as we could. So, this year it is focusing on competing and attention to detail.”
- Matt Prater: “The one thing left for me is to try and win a ring and I knew this was one of the best places to come to have that opportunity,” he said, adding of quarterback Kyler Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, “They can score at any time, obviously, with the weapons they have. Kicking for a team like this is also going to be exciting for me because I know I’m going to get a lot of opportunities to kick and perform. that was also a big reason why I wanted to come here just because the offense is so good, and I can put up points.”
- Kyler Murray: “GARDECKY!”
- DeAndre Hopkins:
1 year anniversary mood. pic.twitter.com/FLDRo6fzGi— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) March 16, 2021
Does it appear to you to that the 2021 Arizona Cardinals are taking a great deal of pride in each other?
Have you ever seen so many players this excited to be Arizona Cardinals?
I have not seen so many happy and excited Cardinals —- not since the St. Louis Cardinals of the 1970s.
Therefore, could this be the Arizona team that can “do this for each other”?
“It ain’t about me —- cause I ain’t doin’ it for me —- I’m f’n doing it for y’all.”