There seems to be some misunderstanding over Arizona Cardinals fans.
Tales are told of half-empty stadiums and overwhelming numbers of other teams fans. And some of these did occasionally happen in the old college stadium. But before you judge too harshly, walk a mile in our shoes.
To prepare for games at Sun Devil—where concrete seats fried in the desert sun—we season-ticket holders use to bring gallons of bottled water to prevent dizziness by halftime.
Hats were the last line of defense from heatstroke. And when the sweat-soaked jersey of your favorite player clings to your skin, you feel a new affinity for the poor guy on the field.
Michael Strahan once remarked he felt like he was going to die twice in his life. And both times were (playing) in Arizona.
I’ve sat in games where the thermometer on the field read 114 degrees. In October. I’ve seen beer vendors with no customers, while the line for water wrapped around the stadium.
Sun Devil actually charged a premium for sitting on the west side—a ‘shade’ fee. As the sun sank into the west a blessed shadow would creep across, dropping the temperature by 10 degrees. The east side wouldn’t see it until third quarter.
But the Cardinal franchise has a long history and a lot more fans than many realize. We’re simply spread around the world. We congregate in cyberspace, tailgate on message boards.
We help a guy flying in from England with offers of room, board, and transport. We commiserate with folks in Denmark who stay up all night to watch the live games. Older fans tell us stories from the time the Cards played in Chicago, while young fans ask about Pat Tillman jerseys.
Once air conditioning in August became a reality, the games have sold out. For the last three years—the last two under Coach Whisenhunt—all games at the University of Phoenix Stadium have been televised locally. People are finally watching their home team at home.
And while Arizona has many transplants with their own team loyalties, they’re slowly taking notice. There are no band wagoners, by the way. A team has to be the favorite in a few playoff games before you can call a supporter a band wagoner.
Now from all of us Cardinal fans, let me ask a question. If the Cardinals win the Super Bowl, will they be underdogs in next season’s home opener?