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When you’ve produced decades of sub-par play before the faithful, it’ll take a while to build true credibility. That’s even more true in the most fair-weather city in America, where people the world over visit, vacation, or move here, seemingly just to espouse their fair-weatherness.
Loyalty is another matter, as witnessed by the sudden outbreak of Cardinals
fan-dom over the past year. It’s the essence of true fair-weatherness. Of course, there is surface loyalty, and true loyalty.
But there is only one credibility.
I have no numbers to back this up, but I doubt it a stretch to say that the locals bought/wear more Cardinals related gear in the past year than the previous decade put together. No major statistical analysis here. I base this on what I see around town.
All over the valley...in fact, all over the country, people were stuffing their Bears
, and Patriots
gear in the back of their closet, opting for Cardinals red last January. “At least for a while” they justified to themselves.
I don’t speak meteorological here, but as sure as the nations fairest weather resides here in the Valley of the Sun once October arrives, so do the fairest weather fans. If the Cardinals started the season at 3-5, or worse, you can bet that many wearing Cardinal red in September would be digging in their closet for their "second favorite" team's jerseys at 2-6.
Super Bowl, Schmuper Bowl.
Don't get me wrong. The Cardinals improbable Super Bowl run helped build the true fan base too, as its now "cool" to wear Cardinals gear to school. Few things build true support for local gridiron games and teams than the local youngin’s becoming fans.
But credibility, while related, is a different matter. And the Cardinals had and have a tough road to hoe as far as building credibility following eons of futility. Their quest is far from over.
You see, not only did the Cardinals “Super” run breed insta-fans, and build on the areas reputation of fair-weatherness. It breeds expectations, especially from those long suffering loyalists.
When the Cardinals went down to Dallas that fateful January Saturday in 1999 and stuck the final dagger in 'The Dynasty’ by beating the favored Cowboys 20-7 before succumbing to the Minnesota Vikings
, the 'even a blind squirell finds an occasional nut’ theory, often following a yawn, was the local reaction.
But this post-playoff season is different. The Cardinals actually retained their talent, and gave the faithful something to believe in. They have jumped hurdles never before jumped, and didn’t fall on their collective faces when they landed on the other side.
Now the Big Red has but a few hurdles to conquer, but they are the highest. They also go as hand-in-hand as bacon 'n eggs or PB and J. One is consistency. The other is maintaining that support they’ve built.
In the past few weeks, they have cruised over some rather large hurdles (winning on the road, beating decent teams on the road, even the apparent birth if an actual running game threat), but whacked their shins on others (Carolina
, disappointing home losses, inability to win the games they 'should’ win with relative ease, and weekly blackout restriction extensions).
So this week, they play a healthier Seattle
team, likely pissed off at the drubbing they absorbed a month ago, and at home where no one seems to fear to tread.
Having smacked down these same Seahawks but few weeks prior, the temptation is there to expect a similar beat-down this week in Glendale. But don’t count on it.
This franchise, over a decade of ineptitude in their wake, isn’t going to fly over every hurdle they’ve created for themselves. Or for their fans. Fans old and new, while excited and full of justified expectations, must remember where were even one short season ago.
This clearly isn’t the "same old Cardinals," but they still haven’t provided a few things necessary to ensure those "second favorite team" jerseys will be on a table at your next garage sale. Those things that will keep the kiddies wearing Cardinal red, even if or inevitably when things don’t go well.
And a championship ring.