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Warm Words

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Exactly one week from the 2022 NFL Draft, on the very day I feared that Erik Burkhardt would make a public demand for the Cardinals to trade Kyler Murray, Steve Keim and Kyler nipped all possible trade questions in the bud. Keim said there was “zero chance” that the Cardinals would trade Kyler, to which Kyler tweeted “100%.”

Kyler took his 100% a step further when he issued this tweet in response to Patrick Peterson’s speculation that Kyler “wasn’t going to sit around and wait” for the Cardinals to surround him with a championship caliber team. K1 tweeted directly to Pat P. and the universe at large:

My first reaction to Kyler’s tweet was one of profound relief.

Dissenters would ask, you felt relieved when you were conducting trade mocks for Kyler and questioning his leadership and desire to stay in Arizona?

Yes, I felt relieved, because if you have followed my work all along, I have not wavered from my position of wanting Kyler to stay in Arizona and wanting him to do more to earn his contract extension. I was very worried he wanted out. And then what?

My second reaction was an ironic sense of deja vu all over again (Yogi Berra) while recalling this now infamous “I’m here to stay baby” bit of grandstanding:

I will be the first to admit that being a Cardinals’ fan for well more than half a century, you may have to excuse me for a being a little cautious to the point of being paranoid.

Now, I would be shocked if Kyler Murray ever got busted for a PED violation.

But, what Pat. P and Kyler already have in common are their social media scrubbings and skipping of OTAs in the midst of money squabbles. It has been made crystal clear to me from a number of Cardinals’ fans that neither scrubbing one’s socials or missing OTAs is a big deal.

Again, please excuse me for feeling differently, especially when the Rams didn’t get that memo.

My third reaction was feeling the irony of Kyler tweeting “I want to win Super Bowls with the Cardinals” while many of his teammates were training in unison, while weightlifting and running sprints, at the Cardinals’ facility.

You may have to excuse me again, but I have a very difficult time buying into “I want to win Super Bowls” statements that are tied to contract negotiations.

In fact, while living five minutes from Gillette Stadium, I have understood and thoroughly appreciated Bill Belichick’s wisdom in asking his players to refrain from uttering the words “Super Bowl” until their team actually qualifies to play in it.

My final reaction was one of sadness —- I bristle at the way that Kyler Murray’s off-season antics have divided Cardinals fans into two very distinct camps. For my part in campaigning for the Cardinals to pick up Kyler’s 5th year option and for expressing my concerns about his maturity (it has never been about his talent), I am being harassed by a number of Cardinals’ fans, one of whom went as far as to call me “an evil wizard who tries to lure young children into his bedroom”.

Many fans in both of the camps have been presented with a scathing ad hominem or two.

I sincerely hope this type of vitriol stops and that we can be civil and understanding of one another.

On the flip side, I actually kind of envy the “this has been no big deal all along” camp who keeps telling me and others how foolish and stupid we are. Honestly, I have not slept well since the playoff disaster in LA and the Murray situation has not allowed me a perfectly good night’s sleep since. Like many loyal but frustrated Cardinals fans, I have a lot of emotions invested in the Cardinals and in Kyler. I spent a whole off-season campaigning for the Cardinals to take him at #1. And then for much of the last two seasons, I have defended Kyler every time he was bashed by the Arizona media or by national pundits.

But there came a point, when I felt like i couldn’t defend Kyler for some of his actions and I wondered what in the world he was doing and thinking.

Yes, his words “AZ is home” felt like the warm rays of the Arizona sun.

So for those of you who have not been sweating this out, I feel a tad envious of you. I hope you’re right. I hope the drama and uncertainty has ended. I hope we can get more jacked up for the NFL Draft than ever before.

For some strange reason, for the past few weeks I have been haunted by a memory from my past that has conjured up my paranoia about being toyed with or misled.

Back when I was struggling very much financially while teaching on a contract that was paying me the same salary as a 3rd year teacher, despite it being my 18th year of teaching, I met a woman named Cathy who was a total knockout.

In order to impress her, I took her to a fancy restaurant. Man, when I picked her up and she walked out to my car in a blue satin blouse, black leather skirt and elegant high heels, it was all I could do to keep my eyes on the road Everything about her was so well coordinated and put together. On top of that, she was interesting, intelligent and engaging. I was in awe.

After running up a $150 tab, as I was pulling a credit card from my wallet, she said, “I just want you to know that I am an old fashioned girl.”

I knew what that meant —- old fashioned girls don’t offer to pitch in for the tab. I wasn’t expecting her to. I am kind of an old fashioned guy when it comes to that anyway, even as broke as I was at the time.

I figured that if there was second date, we could go to the movies and have drink or two after. When I called Cathy three days after the first date, she surprised me by saying how disappointed she was that I didn’t call her the next day. I told her that it wasn’t my style to crowd anyone. And just as I was about to suggest the movies, she beat me to the punch and spoke of a restaurant she had been wanting to go to for a long time, She sked if we could drive over there on Friday night. Of course, I jumped at the suggestion.

The dinner was fabulous and very expensive. I figured she would at some point offer to cook me dinner or that we could hit the movies the next time. I just had to wait it out, I told myself. When I called her, this time the very next day, she had another restaurant in mind. It was another fabulous, very expensive date.

By now she was calling me her boyfriend, which felt good. But, I kept feeling like something was missing and I couldn’t figure out exactly what is was. I was very smitten, nonetheless.

You might imagine my level of panic when she then asked me if we could go out to dinner the next Friday night on a double date with her best friend and boyfriend. The restaurant they picked was like 5 star pricey. Cathy and the couple were ordering rounds of exotic drinks, lavish appetizers, lobsters, desserts and after-dinner aperitifs. The tab came to $360. I know this because when the tab arrived at the table, Cathy snagged it and I thought oh thank goodness she’s going to take care of this one. She’s going to come through in the clutch, after all!

Except, no, Cathy looked her friends in the eyes and said, “Don’t worry guys, Walter will take care of this.” She then handed the tab to me. Cathy’s friends were like, “Oh no, you don’t have to do that, let us split the tab with you.” Cathy wouldn’t have anything of it. She said, “No guys, Walter is happy to take care of it, right Walter?”

You can just imagine what I was feeling as I was adding a $70 tip to the $360.

At that moment I was reminded of a great quote by golfing legend Lee Trevino. When asked about the pressure of being on the leader board at the Masters, Trevino guffawed and said, “Pressure? That’s not pressure. Pressure for me was playing a $5 Nassua with $2 in my pocket.”

Out in the parking lot afterward, while sitting in my car, I gathered up the nerve to ask, “Cathy, what ever possessed you to assume that I was happy to treat for the entire dinner without asking me first?”

She snapped her head toward me and with perhaps the most hideous sneer of disgust I have ever seen on a person’s face, she cried, “I KNEW you were CHEAP! No real man would ever ask a woman like me a question like that.”

So, after we sat silently staring out the windshield for a few minutes, I called a taxi, gave her $40 and asked her to get out of my car. That sent her into a seething rage.

The funny thing was —- the next morning she called me —- not to apologize or anything like that, but to continue her rant as to how CHEAP I am and how I should never treat a woman like that. When she concluded her rant, I asked her if she had anything else to add. She said no. So, I said goodbye.

I still can’t believe this, but, a couple of days later, Cathy called again and said, “Now that we’ve cleared the air, there’s a new restaurant in Bellingham that I think we should try out.”

I shigger you not. I couldn’t make this sh%^ up.

I imagine that the reason why I have been thinking about that incident from my past, is how leery I am of being played, especially when my hopes and emotional investment in something or someone is this high.

Funny how a new trauma can trigger a past one.

Kyler’s words yesterday felt warm.

As much as any Cardinals fan can possibly hope, I hope the words and the music match.

I am eager to wipe the slate clean and start this new chapter afresh.

And, by the way, if we ever get the chance to enjoy a Cardinals’ Super Bowl celebration, I would be perfectly happy to pick up the tab.