Success of Arizona Cardinals Season Doesn't Rest on Sunday's Outcome

Greg EspositoContributor IIJanuary 8, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 18:  An Arizona Cardinals fan holds up a sign following the NFC championship game between the Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles on January 18, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It seems that some Cardinals fans have become the equivalent of spoiled rich L.A. teenagers.

No, they haven’t been given their own reality show or a spread in Playboy, although some of them may be named Spencer and Heidi. And no need to worry, the closest they’ve gotten to wearing Chanel or Prada is their $125 Kurt and Fitz jerseys.

Don’t be fooled, though, these two groups share a common bond.

Last year, these Cardinal fans were given the gift of a lifetime (think: winning the lottery the same day you married the hottest person you know). They were the recipients of three great playoff victories and one amazing Super Bowl week.

They were lavished with praise, attention, and a new higher status on the NFL food chain (depending on which expert you talked to).

Instead of being grateful for what they’d been treated too, this group of fans grew a sense of entitlement and expectation. Feeling that one great playoff run meant that anything less than a deep playoff run this year would be uncivilized (pardon me, but do you happen to have any grey matter?).

Raising expectations is acceptable but it has to be based in some sense of reality. That is, of course, unless you are a Cowboys fan.

Most fans, like myself, remember our Cardinal heritage.

We remember the 20-plus years we spent wandering the desert. We remember the leaders like Buddy Ryan and Denny Green who promised salvation but managed only disappointment. We remember when success was judged by not finishing last in the division. We remember how an 8-8 season was a big deal and a wild-card appearance in the playoffs was earth shattering.

Years of expecting four wins has offered perspective. The success of the Cardinals season doesn’t rest on a victory versus the Green Bay Packers Sunday.

Do we want the Cardinals to go back to the Super Bowl and win it? Yes. Do we need it to validate a season that Cardinals fans haven’t seen since St. Louis in 1976? No.

A 10-win season is something most fans would have sold their souls for three seasons ago (by the way, I’m still not regretting that decision). In years past, hoping for back-to-back division titles would have just been greedy.

If the pain we all suffered at the hands of previous Cardinals teams has taught us anything it should be this, enjoy the ride.

Come Sunday, win or lose, fans should be excited by what the team has accomplished in the past two years, and the new image that is beginning to take hold.

Like the rich teenager, no matter how much fans were spoiled last year they aren’t entitled to anything. Just ask followers of the Seattle Seahawks.


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