In case you missed it, a project I have been working on since the end of the season came to fruition today with the posting of an oral history of Larry Fitzgerald’s huge 2008 playoff run. (Easy to find at azcardinals.com/fitzfantasticfour, so tell a friend). It was great to talk to a few guys that I hadn’t in a number of years, guys who I worked with a lot back when they were around. Steve Breaston, Jerheme Urban, Todd Haley, among others. It didn’t hurt that there are still some in the building that could help, like Freddie Kitchens, Adrian Wilson and Larry Foote.
(And I’d be remiss without pointing out that Sandy McAfee here in the cubicle next to me did a fantastic job taking my words and turning it into a aesthetically beautiful read.)
Mostly though, it was a chance to look back at those games. I’m fortunate enough to have that playoff run on DVD so I could go back for research and simply enjoy re-watching those games. (I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for watching old games. I wish NFL Network would do more from when I was first getting into the game, the late ’70s and early ’80s.) Anyone can understand that Fitzgerald had great stats from that postseason. But his impact looks greater than that when you are watching them in context.
“There were a lot of games where he had a lot of catches (that season),” quarterback Kurt Warner said. “It was the nature of the catches where he really solidified how great he was, how great that run was. His numbers would have been great stacked up against anyone regardless but I think you think back to just the big play after big play after big play.”
Hope you get a chance to read it.
Tags: Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald
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This is going to sound random — and, truthfully, it is — but there is a reason I am talking about the Cardinals and the 2009 Pro Bowl. I’ve been working on a piece about Larry Fitzgerald and his epic playoff run during the Cardinals’ Super Bowl season. That will be posted Monday. But one thing struck me as I looked back and researched things, especially when it comes to the Pro Bowl.
As everyone knows, the Pro Bowl is now held the week before the Super Bowl. Players chosen from the Super Bowl teams obviously don’t play, and at this point, many, many others find reasons not to play. Injuries, yes. And also, “injuries.” Back for the 2008 season, five Cardinals were picked to play in the Pro Bowl: Fitz, Kurt Warner, Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin and Sean Morey. That made sense. They all were excellent that season.
That year, the Pro Bowl was still being played the week after the Super Bowl. Everyone could still make it, but guys would still drop out. If anyone would drop out for a non-injury reason, it could understandably be players from the losing Super Bowl team — especially if it was a heartbreaking loss. But what I had forgotten was that all five Cardinals still showed up in Hawaii a couple of days later and player. In fact, Fitzgerald capped his great regular season and legendary playoff performance with a 5-81-2 line in the Pro Bowl and won MVP. That’s not a surprise, really. What was was the fact the Cards were 5-for-5.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Pro Bowl, Sean Morey
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This story about the Mexican newspaper director — former director, at this point — who allegedly stole Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey is fascinating. It’s fascinating to watch the video, and even more insane to read the AP story about this guy and his apparent history of doing such a thing. There are so many layers to this (including how easy it is to get a media credential at the Super Bowl when you aren’t even doing anything), but it was interesting to see how Brady apparently wasn’t even the only Super Bowl quarterback to have his jersey lifted. Kurt Warner apparently did too.
From the Associated Press story:
Velazquez and Palafox both said Ortega was carrying a bag containing a past Super Bowl jersey worn by Warner and an Emmitt Smith book. Warner was named MVP at the 2000 Super Bowl.
“He showed me Warner’s jersey with his signature and told me a story about how Warner was surprised that he was in possession of the item,” Palafox said. “He said he planned to gather interest from Warner to sell him the jersey for $8,000.”
The story doesn’t necessarily specify which Warner jersey was taken (it mentions he was the 2000 SB MVP — the 1999 season — but doesn’t clarify that was the year it was taken). Warner was in two other Super Bowls, after the 2001 season and, of course, for the Cardinals after the 2008 season. I don’t ever remember hearing about Warner losing his Cardinals jersey, and I’d guess it probably was the 1999 jersey since that was one Warner won. Regardless, it’s a crazy story about a brazen guy. Here’s hoping Kurt gets his jersey back.
(“Kurt, do you know where your jersey is?”)
Tags: jersey, Kurt Warner, Super Bowl
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Playing in Kurt Warner’s annual flag football tourney Saturday, David Johnson didn’t have to do much — the players involved are the all-time quarterbacks for their teams, which basically means grabbing the ball and standing there until someone gets open.
(Although I saw a first in all my years at this event, which started in 2004. Falcons wideout Mohamed Sanu — pictured below, laughing with Johnson — actually played defense for his team a couple of times.)
Johnson has some work to do as a quarterback. But as for his day job — and the knee injury he suffered late in the season — all is better now.
“My wheel is good,” Johnson said. “Good to go already. Back training, full throttle. Doing everything.”
He admitted he got a “harsh reminder” not to do things like jump out of pools, which he had put up on social media while rehabbing.
“I just wanted to show people I was back and ready to go,” Johnson said. Back to 100 percent? “For sure,” he said.
Tags: David Johnson, Kurt Warner
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Kurt Warner is in the Hall of Fame, and he’s had a chance to play with a lot of receivers that also could get a gold jacket. Larry Fitzgerald will be there someday, and Warner knows that. But in an interview with PFT Live, Warner was asked who he’d bang the table for to try and help get into Canton. He said former Rams teammate Isaac Bruce, in his view, should already be in so he’d probably lobby that way, but he also said he expects Bruce and fellow Ram Torry Holt to eventually get in. So, Warner said, that would turn his attention to former Cardinals teammate Anquan Boldin.
“I might bang the table for Anquan Boldin, because I think of all those guys, he gets the least respect for how great he is,” Warner said. “It amazes me, we want to keep looking at measurables and how fast guys are, as opposed to (being) one of the greatest football players I ever played with, competed more than anybody I ever played (with).
“He wanted the ball in his hands, was a difference-maker. Everybody tries to get rid of him and he just goes and he’s the No. 1 receiver on that next team. So I believe he’s the one who gets the least amount of respect, so I would love to get on the table for him.”
Boldin’s career, like Fitz’s, is winding down. He’s currently set to be a free agent after spending 2016 with the Lions, and said — while at the Super Bowl in Houston — his plans for 2017 were undecided.
“You probably have to ask my wife,” Boldin said with a chuckle. “The decisions I make now don’t just affect me. If it was up to me, I’d say I’d probably be playing in 2017, but I have to sit down with my wife. We have two boys, my decision affects them, so it’ll be a family decision.”
(No, I would not think, if Boldin continues to play, the Cardinals would be an option.)
Boldin’s numbers deserve Hall consideration for sure, as does the fact he played for some good teams — the Cards’ Super Bowl team, the Ravens when they won a Super Bowl, playoff teams in San Francisco and Detroit. With 1,076 receptions for 13,779 yards and 82 touchdowns, his stats were close to Fitzgerald’s up until a couple of seasons ago when Fitz’s production popped. (Fitz is at 1,125-14,389-104 for his career).
As great as Boldin’s career has been there’s no question his best years — and longest tenure — was his time in Arizona. Seven seasons, five 1,000-yard years (of the seven in his career.) When he and Fitz played together at the height of their powers, they deserved to be in the argument for best duo.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Hall of Fame, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald
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Fitz said he’s coming back and it seems like only a matter of time before Carson Palmer does the same. I get why some have trepidation that Palmer has yet to officially say anything, but knowing Palmer, he really didn’t want to even make coming back a “thing” if he could’ve helped it; if Bruce Arians hadn’t mentioned that Palmer was on the fence, I’m not sure anyone would even be thinking about it.
(As a side note, on Friday Palmer’s 2017 salary of $15.5 million becomes fully guaranteed. Fitz’s $11M salary also becomes guaranteed that day.)
It’s important to have Palmer, of course. I’ve heard from fans who think otherwise, who want to move on, but that makes no sense to me. Not that it matters — Palmer, if he wants to play, is the quarterback. But anytime that subject comes up, it makes me think of the lengthy list of QBs this franchise has had since moving to Arizona. So, as the 2016 season fades and we wait for the 2017 season to gain steam, I thought I’d do a power ranking of the QBs this team has had since 1988, the year they came to the desert. My one requirement: A QB had to have at least 10 starts (eliminating some half-season greats like Boomer Esiason, Derek Anderson and Jay Schroeder. Feel free to insert them into your own list if you choose.) There have been a few.
- 1. Kurt Warner: He’s a Hall of Famer and the lone guy to get the Cards to a Super Bowl. So, yeah. He’s the best.
- 2. Palmer: He has plenty of critics. But he’s been pretty good. He’s won a lot of games. And, save for 2014, he’s been durable.
- 3. Neil Lomax: Oh, that hip.
- 4. Jake Plummer: Beloved local hero finally got the Cardinals to the playoffs. So fun to watch. Sometimes, frustrating to watch.
- 5. Kevin Kolb: He was usually solid — he could just never stay healthy. Beat the Patriots in New England.
- 6. Steve Beuerlein: Maybe things would’ve been a little different if Buddy Ryan hadn’t shown up.
- 7. Josh McCown: The man Denny Green believed in enough to justify drafting Fitz.
- 8. Timm Rosenbach: Another guy you wonder about had he had health.
- 9. Matt Leinart: He did just fine his first two starts. But post-Monday Night Meltdown, and after Kurt, everything changed.
- 10. Dave Krieg: To be a QB on a Buddy Ryan team couldn’t have been easy.
- 11. Kent Graham: Had the misfortune of trying to be the placeholder for Jake the Snake.
- 12. Chris Chandler: One year as full-time starter got 15 TDs, 15 picks and 12 losses.
- 13. Jeff Blake: Once, I asked him about his career. “It’s not like I’ve played bad ball,” he said. “I’ve just been on bad teams.”
- 14. Gary Hogeboom: Those years after Lomax were tough.
- 15. John Skelton: Cards managed to go .500 with him taking over for Kolb in 2011. Fitz helped.
- 16. Tom Tupa: He was a punter first for a reason.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Chris Chandler, Dave Krieg, Gary Hogeboom, Jake Plummer, Jeff Blake, John Skelton, Josh McCown, Kent Graham, Kevin Kolb, Kurt Warner, Matt Leinart, Neil Lomax, Steve Beuerlein, Timm Rosenbach, Tom Tupa
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Sure, with the playoffs starting this weekend you can stew about a team that was top 10 in offense and defense, seventh in the league in point-differential, scored more than 400 points and lead the league in sacks and yet under .500 and not in the postseason. But with it being Wild Card weekend and all, and the Packers once again playing, there is always the opportunity to go down memory lane. Maybe you’d like to re-read about last year’s playoff win over the Packers, or watch the highlights. But if you are looking for more — and perhaps, with Kurt Warner again on the verge of the Hall of Fame — how about a full replay of the Cardinals’ 51-45 wild Wild card win over the Packers in the 2009 playoffs?
You remember that one, of course. Warner had more touchdown passes (5) than incompletions (4). Larry Fitzgerald scored a pair of touchdowns (and kept the ball after each, FYI.) And it went to overtime with a dramatic ending, just like Cards-Pack 2015.
No, it’s not a real game this weekend. But it’s something.
Tags: Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Packers, playoffs
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The Hall of Fame announced their 2017 finalists Tuesday, and once again, former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner has made the list. It’s not a surprise — Warner was close to making the Hall of Fame last year and it is expected to be just a matter of time before he is voted in. This is the third time Warner has made the final 15.
Warner isn’t the only one with Cardinals ties to make the fine 15. One-time Cardinals guard Alan Fanaca and former coach Don Coyrell also are on the list, as both were last year. Former Cardinals running back Edgerrin James, who was in the final 15 last year, didn’t make the cut. The full list:
— Safety Brian Dawkins
— Defensive end Jason Taylor
— Running back LaDainian Tomlinson
— Kicker Morten Andersen
— Coach Don Coryell
— Quarterback Kurt Warner
— Wide receiver Isaac Bruce
— Running back Terrell Davis
— Wide receiver Terrell Owens
— Tackle Tony Boselli
— Guard Alan Faneca
— Tackle Joe Jacoby
— Cornerback Ty Law
— Safety John Lynch
— Center Kevin Mawae
Warner has said he would be patient with the process. The vote occurs Feb. 4, the day before the Super Bowl. The 15 will be whittled to a list of 10, and then as many as five — plus the possibility of the Seniors committee possibility, safety Kenny Easley, and contributors committee nominees Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner, and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
“It’s always an honor. … Now you go into it and you appreciate the process, but you feel more than you’re not a Hall of Famer until you actually get the call,” Warner told NFL Network.
Tags: Alan Faneca, Don Coryell, Edgerrin James, Hall of Fame, Kurt Warner
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Antrel Rolle retired Monday, although the former Cardinals safety retired a lot like many players end up doing — the decision was pretty much made for him, with no interest out there. Rolle admitted on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” spending the back half of the 2015 on injured reserve with the Chicago Bears and being 33 didn’t help his current status.
“I’m done,” Rolle said, adding, “I’m at total peace with that.”
Rolle — who left the Cardinals after the 2009 season, and more on that in a moment — was just in Arizona this summer attending the retirement press conference of fellow former Card Darnell Dockett. (That’s Rolle to the left in the photo below, talking to Adrian Wilson.) Wilson was already retired, and another former teammate who was there — Antonio Smith — sounded like he was considering it, although Smith ended up re-signing with the Texans after J.J. Watt got hurt.
Rolle’s five years with the Cardinals were interesting, as was his departure. Drafted eighth overall in 2005 to play cornerback for Dennis Green, Rolle eventually moved to safety — a position many assumed he’d eventually play even from the time he was drafted. He had a memorable game in 2007 in Cincinnati, returning two Carson Palmer interceptions for touchdowns and actually did it a third time only to have the score called back on a questionable roughing call post-pick on none other than Smith.
He was young and brash, like Dockett and Karlos Dansby, on a defense that wasn’t always consistent but that stood up during that 2008 Super Bowl run. His six-year rookie contract was bulky though, put together in a day long before rookie slotting. So coming into 2010, with a $4 million roster bonus due and an $8 million salary, the Cardinals — who tried and failed to get an extension done — released Rolle. He became part of the star-studded exodus that offseason (Kurt Warner, Dansby, Anquan Boldin as well) that shifted dramatically the Ken Whisenhunt era.
Rolle went on to get not only his big money (there was a similar offer from the Cards Rolle turned down) but big attention in New York with the Giants, making three Pro Bowls, making many headlines with his blunt talk on a weekly radio show, and winning a Super Bowl. It turned out to be a nice career. Although his stint in Arizona feels like a lifetime ago.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby, Kurt Warner
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It’s the Cardinals vs. the Rams, a game that in Bruce Arians’ time as the Cards’ coach has often provided some memorable moments over six meetings.
- In 2013 in St. Louis, Arians’ first game as coach, Tyrann Mathieu had his famous forced fumble from behind, although it wasn’t enough in a Cardinals’ loss;
- In 2014 at home, Carson Palmer tore his ACL but the Cards, thanks to Drew Stanton and the defense, poured on late TDs to move to 8-1;
- In 2014 on the road, Stanton suffered what turned out to be a season-ending injury, and the defense was brick-wall-esque in a brutal 12-6 win. That’s the game in which Arians talked about a team “always 8-8.”
- In 2015 at home, Todd Gurley broke out and the Rams managed a big upset over the undefeated Cardinals.
What comes this Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium could determine the direction of the season. A 1-3 start is a difficult hole out of which to climb. The Cardinals are 2-2 — especially with a short week and trip to San Francisco coming Thursday — and life is much more settled.
— It will be helpful, to say the least, to have guard Evan Mathis in the lineup against that defensive line.
— I know the Cards knew the Bills were going to run last week and the Bills still killed them on the ground. I know Gurley is good. But I’m betting this defensive performance will look more how the Cardinals dealt with Gurley in St. Louis than that out-of-control 144-yard half in Arizona last year.
— Usually, no one pays attention to the long snapper. That hasn’t been the case with the Cardinals, and newcomer Aaron Brewer — who snapped for the Super Bowl champion Broncos last season — would like for that to change.
“Hopefully everybody forgets who I am and I kind of fall away into the shadows,” Brewer said. “That’d be the best. … That means you do your job well, when no one knows who you are.”
— It’s not ideal when two of the three pieces in the kicking operation changes in one week, but kicker Chandler Catanzaro said he’s already found a comfort level with Brewer and new holder/punter Ryan Quigley. “I understand the business of it, that it is a production business and things have happened,” Catanzaro said. “That’s something I can take on my shoulders and we can fight through it. That’s part of the deal as a specialist.”
— Yes, punter Drew Butler was supposed to hold but his bad calf won’t let that be possible. I don’t know what happens if Quigley impresses. Arians said this week Butler would remain on the roster unless an injury forced a move.
— Roy Green will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at halftime Sunday (we will have a story posted Saturday about Green.)
— Much talk this week about Mike Leach coming out of retirement. The former long snapper told the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports he actually went out and practiced snapping at his house with a helmet and pads on, to see if he could still do it. He could — except the way his body felt the next day reminded him why he retired. Few know how much time Leach spent in the training room the past few years getting his body ready to play every week.
— If you missed it, here’s the Cardinals Underground podcast from this week.
— This point was brought up to me by a fan, that the passing game stumbles through the first three games is reminiscent of similar issues Kurt Warner and the Cardinals had through three games in 2009 after big expectations. That year, the Cardinals found their rhythm and won nine of their next 12 games (although the passing game never quite reached 2008 levels.)
This isn’t about streaks right now, though. The Cardinals just want one win, at home, against a team they’ve played generally well against (even in last year’s loss the Cards moved the ball, they just lost the turnover battle and stalled in the red zone.)
— In 2002, the Rams — coming off a tough Super Bowl loss and bringing back basically the same powerful team — ended up starting 0-5. Then-quarterback Kurt Warner has said (and reiterated this week on Arizona Sports 98.7) it was because the Rams were pressing too hard to show how good they were.
Warner said he thinks that is happening to the Cardinals. Arians agreed. Now we’ll see if the Cards can adjust that and fix the direction they are going.
Tags: Aaron Brewer, Carson Palmer, Chandler Catanzaro, Drew Stanton, Evan Mathis, Kurt Warner, Mike Leach, Rams, Roy Green, Ryan Quigley, Todd Gurley
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