In a 48-hour period that will change America forever, the Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl and Barack Obama is going to the White House. What price would the Las Vegas sports books have given you on that parlay one year ago?
In a land of possibility, my Team of Destiny did the improbable.
I am so stoked, I am going to walk all the way to Florida for Super Bowl 43 – maybe I’ll pass the Madden Cruiser on the highway.
(By the way, even if I do walk all the way to Florida, when I get there, I’ll watch the game on TV.)
The Cardinals now have a chance to end a 61-year championship drought. That’s a longer dry spell than Whitney Houston’s had.
This one was for Cardinals fans – ah, let me tell you about Cardinals fans.
Sure, we’re not America’s Team. There is no Cardinal Nation; frankly, it’s more like Cardinal Cul-de-Sac. But Cardinals fans are littered across the nation – I met two at a Stuckey’s in Opelika, Ala., two more at a Chevron in Breezewood, Pa., and a family of four, with a cocker spaniel, waiting for a Sam’s Club to open in Lone Tree, Colo.
Cardinals fans are a stout, quiet lot. We have suffered in silence for years, watching our team lose time and again accompanied by bottom-tier network announcers relegated to the week’s worst game. Generally, we are not rich – average income: between jobs – and we don’t have a bunch of fancy connections or celebrity backers.
What we do have these days is an uncommon, unearthly duo: Our stadium and our quarterback.
Have you ever seen historic University of Phoenix Stadium? It’s Lambeau Field with palm trees. Nobody beats the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Nobody.
The Cardinals enjoy the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL. When the roof is open, the combination of the desert heat and the half-filled stands stifles visiting teams. When the roof is closed, the stench of the heavy cologne from the half-filled stands – it’s an Old Spice crowd – stifles visiting teams.
And have you ever seen otherworldly quarterback Kurt Warner? He came from a galaxy far, far away, played Arena Football, bagged groceries, went to NFL Europe and did not start an NFL game until he was 28 years old – and he’s going to end up in the Hall of Fame. Everything he touches turns to first-and-goal.
Still, there was the matter of the Philadelphia Eagles, the third straight team to be favored over the Cardinals in the playoffs.
I was so nervous before kickoff, I poured Metamucil into my Pabst Blue Ribbon instead of into my orange juice.
The Cardinals decided to close the roof.
(Unfortunately, this does not allow Warner’s family on Cardassia III to look in.)
I knew the Cardinals would win when Philadelphia’s David Akers, after making 19 straight playoff field goal attempts, missed a 47-yarder in the second quarter. I knew the Cardinals would win when, on the next snap, Warner threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to the incomparable Larry Fitzgerald on a trick play. I knew the Cardinals would win when Neil Rackers made a 49-yard field goal as the half ended to make it 24-6.
Granted, when the Eagles scored 19 straight points in the second half to take the lead, I got a queasy feeling, but I thought it just might be the $5 Subway foot-long I had mistakenly ingested.
They kept hitting my all-time favorite quarterback late, but Warner’s magnetic force field repels such intellectual and physical stupidity. And once behind for the first time in the game, Warner led a 14-play, 72-yard drive culminated by a nine-yard touchdown pass to Tim Hightower.
I knew the Cardinals would win when the game ended and the scoreboard said they were ahead, 32-25.
They are the first Team of Destiny to ever reach its destination. They complete me.
I have no idea who won the AFC championship game; it is a trivial matter with no bearing on the Cardinals’ ultimate destiny.
Anyway, I’m going to Disney World – or wherever Tampa is – for Super Bowl 43. Ruby Tuesday and T.G.I. Friday’s, here I come!
Ask The Slouch
Q. If you have a big event at home, do you rest your PBRs in the fridge the week before and drink a backup like Miller or Bud? (Derek Zelenka; Akron, Ohio)
A. Historically, I serve Miller or Bud only to my in-laws.
Q. Why on earth would Tim Tebow return to Florida for another year? (Dan Segal; Chicago)
A. The campus library is to die for.
Q. If you hadn’t been cheated on Internet poker, would you be able to pay us more than $1.25? (Paul Elstein; Columbia, Md.)
A. Actually, they don’t have to cheat me to beat me. So take your buck twenty-five and leave me be.
Q. Is the Obama presidency a direct result of the NFL’s implementation of the Rooney Rule? (Scott D. Shuster; Watertown, Mass.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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