Superbowl XLIII: Steelers vs Cardinals: A 49er Fan's Perspective

Andy BenschSenior Writer IJanuary 23, 2009

The 43rd Super Bowl game is a match-up containing both the probable and the improbable.

Still fresh off their fifth Superbowl victory in franchise history back in Super Bowl XL, the Pittsburgh Steelers will once again be representing the AFC in the biggest game of the season.

However, nothing was probable about the Arizona Cardinals winning three playoff games in order to earn the right to represent the NFC in the biggest game of the season.  A franchise who had not hosted a playoff game since last winning an NFL championship back in 1947. 

If you do the math, that championship wasn't even decided in what we now call the "Super Bowl" as it came long before the merger of the NFL and the AFC. 

Not only have the Cardinals been one of the worst franchise's in NFL history, but they currently contribute to what is thought of as the worst division in football (the NFC West, which my San Francisco 49ers also partake in) and earned their playoff spot with a mediocre 9-7 regular season record.

Arizona was suppose to lose in the wild-card round against the 11-5 Atlanta Falcons, and they were suppose to not even have a "chance-in-hell" in the divisional round playing in Carolina against the Panthers.  The Cardinals had not won in the eastern time zone all year, had previously lost to Carolina in the regular season and Carolina had not lost a home-game all season.

Yet, Arizona somehow came away with a convincing victory and moved on to the NFC championship game where they hosted the Philadelphia Eagles.  They weren't suppose to win this one either.  But despite blowing an 18 point half-time lead, the Cardinals got that all important final touchdown drive to seal their spot in the Super Bowl.

Now as a San Francisco 49er fan, my family has brought me up to despise the St. Louis Rams, and because of this (and even though I respect him as a player) I hate to see Kurt Warner win.

In the late 90's, early 00's the Kurt Warner led Rams made my beloved 49ers look like they belonged in the CFL, much less the NFL. 

And this time around, Kurt Warner is leading yet another divisional foe, and has his team in yet another Super Bowl. 

Now as for me, I hate the Cardinals. Call it jealousy, but Larry Fitzgerald's celebrations with the jumping up and down and pointing at the crowd with both his hands in the air just absolutely irritates me.  If I were his coach I would tell him to "act like he's scored before" kind of like Issac Bruce for example, who coincidentally was on those Rams teams I despised but now he is a 49er so I feel no shame in using him as an example.

I really did not want the Cardinals to win this game.

However, when discussing the game with one of my fellow class-mates who loves the 49ers as much as myself, I suddenly wasn't sure who I wanted to win the Super Bowl.

My friend Brian brought up a really interesting point. A point that I was surprised I hadn't thought of already because with the inherent magnitude of a sixth Super Bowl victory, one would think the Steelers would be advertising that idea going into the game.

If the Steelers were to win on February 1st, they would surpass the 49ers and Cowboys for the most Super Bowl victories of any NFL franchise. They would be first team to "bring home six". And my friend Brian brought up the point that he doesn't want the Steelers to surpass his beloved 49ers because in the down days of the San Francisco organization, being tied for the lead in Super Bowl victories is something to brag about.

An Arizona victory would also bring more creditability to the NFC West (as stated earlier the division which my 49ers also reside in) and since the 49ers almost beat the Cardinals in Arizona this season, the 49ers will there in fact look better than their 7-9 finish shows.

Hence, today I am at a cross-roads.  I thought I for sure wanted the Steelers to not only win, but blow the Cardinals out of the water. But now I'm not quite sure.

On one hand if the Cardinals win, the 49ers will continue to share the lead in Superbowl victories and their division will garner more respect.  But can I really root for the Cardinals? A team led by Kurt Warner? A quarterback who I absolutely can't stand to see win? Can I really root for a division rival?

With who I want to win becoming more and more blurry, I realize that since their are both pros and cons from a 49er fan's perspective, I should just hope for a good game.

And that is probably what us NFL fans are going to get.