Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesOctober 31, 2009
For many years, the Arizona Cardinals were the pennies of Halloween. Or the apple. Or any other unwrapped or otherwise useless waste of time and energy item that made you wish you just skipped that house.
You walk up having no idea if what you get now will be better than what the last house had to offer, but you always have high expectations. Or at least, you hold out hope.
As a Cardinals
fan, ‘The last house’ is generally a little 3-pack of Smarties. Or one of those homemade popcorn balls wrapped in Saran Wrap. Or a nickel. Something along those lines. Something that elicits a “Eh, it’s better than nothing, but just barely” kind of reaction.
As a Cardinals fan, it seems like year after year, you’re sitting on the floor separating and adding up the previous night's booty, only to realize that mom was going to make you toss most of it in the garbage.
Sure, there was an occasional bag of ‘fun size’ M&M’s or ‘fun size’ Snickers. But most would end up in the trash.
And whats so darn ‘fun’ about a micro-sized bag or bar of your favorite candy anyway?
What made it worse, of course, was when your friends came by. You know, the Dallas
fan,...or the 49ers
Year after year, while you lament the measly, pathetic take sitting in a small pile in front of you, they’re showing off their regular sized Baby Ruth’s, Charleston Chew’s, and/or the little stack of quarters they managed to procure the night before.
Last year, as the Cardinals set off trick-or-treating in a new and unfamiliar neighborhood (the playoffs), the rest of the football world was writing them off as misplaced party crasher kids from the other side of the tracks. “What are they doing here?" was whispered when they’d walk by, "They don’t belong over here.”
Or that Collinsworth guy who used to dress as an NFL
receiver, now sharing his years of accumulated knowledge and almost eerie prognostication skills as an NFL analyst when he informs everyone in the neighborhood that they are, ‘They’re the worst ever to play here.’
‘They’ were dressed as a division champion, but that HAD to be a mistake. I mean, this is a team that spent its first two decades in the Valley of the Sun playing in front of 40,000 people that showed up every week dressed as empty seats.
The trick was that they could sell ANY seats when they would treat their fans to such lousy football year after year. ‘They’ had ‘One and done’ written all over them.
But it turns out that the Cardinals were actually pretty scary. It was one thing to treat the locals to a first round win at home against the Falcons
It was quite another to go into Carolina
, a true house of horrors to all that visited in 2008, and dressed as double-digit underdogs, only to end up with a shot at wearing the NFC crown, dressed as Conference Champs.
But what of this season? What will the Cards show up in this year? Will they make their fans feel like they just won the Hershey’s jackpot? Or will they make them feel like they just ate four pounds of candy corn?
Will they come walking through the door dressed as the same old Cardinals? Or will they like what they wore in New York last week enough to brave wearing it over and over?
Only time will tell, of course. This is a team that has made a habit of teasing the faithful as a contender, but changing into pretender around Halloween.
This is a team that has a history so frightening, that it took a $400 million silver barrel cactus (capacity 62,000) in the West Valley to bring the little trick-or-treaters to the party.
Its a team that has always had a couple boxes of Milk Duds, but the rest can go into the trashcan come Nov. 1.
This is also a team that surprised and beat a red-hot, solid team with a stud rookie QB, stomped an otherwise unbeaten team on the same turf that they (and every other visitor) was previously stomped, and 'shocked the world’ crushing a perennial Championship Game participant before it scared the ba-jeebers out of the now six-time World Champs in February.
The Cardinals, those otherwise wayward kids from the other side of the playoff tracks, are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.
They have a coaching staff that has instilled a confidence as rare as a full-sized Butterfinger in the bottom of the goodie-bag. And they appear ready to crash the party again.
For you non-believers, be afraid.
Be very afraid.