A couple of late afternoon things to touch on:
– The NFL officially announced the 2014 schedule will be released Wednesday at 5 p.m. Arizona time (8 p.m. eastern). Be sure to check azcardinals.com then not only for the schedule but for various schedule-related content, including one to download. Yes, it’s kind of funny that the schedule release means so much, especially since we are only talking dates and times here (and TV appearances), but not opponents. We already have long known not only who the opponents are but where the Cardinals will play them. Still, it’s a big deal. People want to make plans. Certainly I am paying attention to what weekends I will be out of town.
– Larry Fitzgerald has been working out here with the Cards, but he’s got a non-football game to play too. Saturday night is his annual charity softball game at Salt River Fields. Fitz again has a pretty nice guest list, including Colin Kaepernick, Richard Sherman, Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner. Now, Fitz isn’t exactly Mike Trout out there — he didn’t exactly shine when he took batting practice at a Diamondbacks game a few years back — but he hangs in there. It’s all about the Larry Fitzgerald Foundation, right? Click here for tickets.
– April 26th is also Pat’s Run, in which I will be taking part once again and hopefully some of you are too. It’s been an emotional couple of days thinking about Pat Tillman and his legacy on the 10-year anniversary of his death. Pat’s Run is one of those great things that came out of it.
– The 2014 Cardinals cheerleading squad will be announced Thursday night, during an FSN Arizona special televised at 6:30 p.m. (and then immediately posted on azcardinals.com).
– Finally, don’t forget about Thursday night’s Spring Tailgate, including the live TV show. All the details are here.
Tags: charity, cheerleaders, Larry Fitzgerald, NFL schedule, Pat Tillman
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There has been and will be a lot written about Pat Tillman of late given that today is the 10th anniversary of his death. (That includes my story last week.) I have written about Tillman many times over the years I have covered the team, having been here for the final two seasons of Pat in a Cardinals uniform, covered his departure into the Army and then his death. There are a few moments that come to mind with Tillman. This is just one that happens to stick in my head.
In 2000, the Cardinals were not very good. The playoff season of just two years previous was a memory. Vince Tobin was fired as head coach seven games into the year. Dave McGinnis was named interim head coach, and was able to remove the interim tag just before the final home game of the season — a relatively inspired loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore. But the week before, the Cards had traveled to Jacksonville to play a Jaguars team that had been to AFC championship games recently but had gotten out to a horrible start before getting hot down the stretch. The Cards went to Florida and were hammered. The Jaguars scored on eight of 10 possessions (with the 10th lasting 14 plays, going just 31 yards and burning the final 9:45 of the clock.)
Tillman had something to say afterward.
“In this league, you have to overcome injuries, problems, coaches getting fired,” he said that day. “Nobody cares (about excuses.) Don’t tell me about the pain, show me the baby. We’re not showing the baby right now, we’re just bitching about the pain.
“They are a good offensive team. Does that give us an excuse to lay on our backs and let them roll over us? No. We didn’t play the way we want to play. … I want to say the way we are capable of playing, but we haven’t gone out and played very well and it’s hard for me to even say it. People don’t believe it.”
It was just a loss in a lost season. Given what Tillman’s life — and death — became later, it is barely a footnote. But I think it resonates with me for a couple of reasons, part of which was that I was there to hear the anger and frustration in his voice. I think of it for more than just that though. It was after the 2000 season when Tillman was a restricted free agent, when he could have signed an offer sheet with the Rams for five years and worth $9.6 million. It was a deal the Cards may not have matched, but either way, Tillman would have been paid. Instead, Tillman — who again, mind you, lived through the frustration of the 2000 season and was offered a deal with a Rams team who would end up playing in the Super Bowl the next season — wouldn’t sign the offer sheet. He came back to the Cardinals, for a one-year, $512,000 contract.
Tillman wanted to stay with McGinnis. He wanted to stay with defensive coordinator Larry Marmie. He wanted to help fix the Cardinals, rather than jump to the high-flying Rams. The Cards were the team that drafted him, that took a chance on a college linebacker who might not have translated to the NFL. He didn’t want to leave that. He wasn’t going to make excuses.
Tillman’s life, his legacy, was and is about so much more than football. For me, though, it’s hard to forget those moments in the visiting locker room in Jacksonville, and how Pat Tillman it was.
Tags: Pat Tillman
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It’s strange, and maybe because it’s because the Cardinals face the Jaguars so rarely, but each of the last three meetings between the teams – dating back to 2000, my first full year covering this team – is burned into my brain for a particular reason.
2000 – The Cardinals were manhandled in Jacksonville. The Jaguars scored on eight of 10 possessions and the final possession ate up the last 9-plus minutes of the clock (as the Jags traveled all of 31 yards. Hard to believe). Afterward, though, it was classic Pat Tillman, raging against a team that had folded in a season that featured the firing of Vince Tobin.
“In this league, you have to overcome injuries, problems, coaches getting fired,” Tillman spouted. “Nobody cares (about excuses). Don’t tell me about the pain, show me the baby. We’re not showing the baby right now, we’re just bitching about the pain.”
2005 – It was a nondescript game at Sun Devil Stadium later in the year – a seven-point loss when Kurt Warner was sacked and fumbled late – except for an angry Anquan Boldin, who had 10 catches and more than 100 yards but got so ticked at what he perceived as dirty play that he got two personal foul calls fighting cornerback Terry Cousin. That wasn’t the memorable part. The memorable part was Boldin writing a letter to the editor of both local newspapers apologizing for the penalties.
2009 – The NFC champion Cards were coming off a home upset loss to the Niners when they had to travel cross country in Week 2. The Cards blasted the Jaguars, in a game marked by Warner’s amazing NFL record, completing 92.3 percent of his passes (24 of 26) to earn another slot in the Hall of Fame.
We’ll see if this game ends up providing some kind of memory.
– Don’t talk trap game with the Cardinals. “No, no, no,” Larry Fitzgerald said. “This is a playoff game. There is no such thing as a trap game in the NFL.” As you might expect, the Cardinals were handing out plenty of compliments to the Jaguars this week. The hope is that they play with that focus.
– Then again, there is this analysis of the Jaguars.
– It’s not often when the “Friday before” post is actually posted from the flight out, but it is today (and will be again in a couple weeks, when the Cards go out on Friday before the Philly game.) Coach Bruce Arians, coaching out West for the first time in his career, said he talked to many people in the offseason about setting a schedule. The Cards don’t get in to the hotel until about 10 p.m., but Arians said he didn’t want to move up the schedule.
“We’ve been down this road with Tampa,” Arians said. “There are no excuses not to come out and play well.”
– How red-hot is Justin Bethel on special teams? Profootballfocus.com, which grades special teamers (among others), has never had a guy grade out the highest in two weeks of the same season, and Bethel has done it three times – including against Houston last week, in which Bethel had PFF’s highest special teams grade ever.
– The Jaguars, which won their first game of the season last week, hasn’t won back-to-back games since 2010.
– Going against the worst rushing defense in the league – in part there, I am sure, because so many teams have blown the Jags out and have run a lot to grind second-half clock – the Cards should run the ball effectively. They need to run it effectively.
– John Abraham seemed confident he wouldn’t be hampered much by his bad hamstring. He’s playing so well, the Cards have to hope he isn’t.
– There isn’t much to analyze about this game. The Cards have put themselves in good position to be 6-4. Now they just have to play like it.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Bruce Arians, Jaguars, John Abraham, Justin Bethel, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Pat Tillman
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— MarkDalton (@CardsMarkD) November 6, 2013
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, NFL, Pat Tillman, Salute to Service
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, NFL, Pat Tillman, Pat Tillman Foundation
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The University of Pittsburgh announced yesterday that it would be retiring the No. 1 jersey in honor of Larry Fitzgerald’s tenure as a Panther, a pretty remarkable achievement when you consider Fitz played just two seasons in college. (Because Fitz went to prep school for a year after high school to improve his grades, he was able to go to the NFL after his true sophomore season.) Fitzgerald was a beast in college. In his final Pitt season in 2003, despite playing for a Pitt team with limited weapons and drawing all the attention of every opponent, Fitz had 92 catches for 1,672 yards (for an 18.2 avg.) and 22 touchdowns. Guess being the No. 3 pick overall was kind of a no-brainer, even if it meant passing on some quarterbacks that turned out to be pretty good themselves.
No word in the announcement, by the way, when the jersey retiring will take place. (And, as a side note, when talking to Larry Fitzgerald Sr. last year for a Fitz story I was working on, he said his son thought about not going to Pitt but Michigan State. “He thought real hard,” Fitzgerald Sr. said, “because his girlfriend was there.”)
Anyway, Fitz’s number being retired usually brings up the secondary question: Would, somewhere down the road, the Cardinals retire No. 11? The answer is probably not. And it doesn’t have anything to do with how great Fitzgerald’s career ends up.
The Cardinals simply don’t retire many numbers. They put players in the Ring of Honor, which doesn’t take their jersey number off the market. Hall of Famers like Dan Dierdorf and Roger Wehrli are in the Ring of Honor yet their Nos. 72 and 22, respectively, have been worn often (of late, Brandon Keith and currently DE Everrette Thompson have had 72 and 22 has been worn by Duane Starks, Emmitt Smith and, today, CB Bryan McCann.)
The Cardinals have retired five jersey numbers since the organization started in 1898. Hall of Fame safety Larry Wilson (8), all-around star back and war hero Marshall Goldberg (99), safety/war hero Pat Tillman (40), and two players who died while on the roster, tight end J.V. Cain (88) and tackle Stan Mauldin (77). There are 13 people in the team’s Ring of Honor, including Wilson, Tillman and Goldberg but not Cain or Mauldin. That RoH number will rise when safety Adrian Wilson goes in, and I’d expect Fitz to be there someday as well. He just might not be able to take 11 with him, at least not permanently.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Brandon Keith, Bryan McCann, Dan Dierdorf, Duane Starks, Emmitt Smith, Everrette Thompson, J.V. Cain, Larry Fitzgerald, Larry Wilson, Marshall Goldberg, Pat Tillman, Ring of Honor, Roger Wehrli, Stan Mauldin
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A little of this, a little of that at the beginning of a short week in a quiet building — the Cardinals’ coaches and veterans are all off until OTAs resume next week, although rookies are around for strength and conditioning along with daily excursions into the community for various events. Next week is the last week of OTAs — four spanning Monday through Thursday — with mandatory minicamp the following week June 11-13. Don’t forget Fan Fest at University of Phoenix Stadium June 11. Details TBA.
– The NFL officially moved the 2014 NFL draft later as expected, putting it on May 8-10 instead of the last weekend of April as usual. The rest of the NFL calendar remains status quo, however.
The Scouting combine still in later February (18-25) and the new league year/free agency still early March (11). The league is saying the draft plans beyond 2014 are still undecided. Most importantly was this section of the news:
“The change in the date of the 2014 Draft will have no effect on when rookies may begin to report to their clubs, the dates of off-season programs, or the length of off-season programs. Clubs will have available to them the same number of practice days that they currently have and no changes in the off-season calendar are being considered that would reduce the number of practice days or the overall length of the off-season program. At this time, changes are not anticipated in the off-season calendar for 2015 and beyond that would reduce the number of practice days or otherwise limit the off-season program.”
That’s a benefit for the rookies. What does it all mean? Not a ton — unless you are a veteran free agent who doesn’t get swept up early and was going to have to wait until after the draft to find a place. That just got delayed. After what has transpired this offseason, I will be very interested to see if more players are willing to drop their price tag early next year to make sure they have a place — assuming free agency plays out again next spring as it has this year.
– This full analysis of Tyrann Mathieu’s contract suggests the Cardinals have protected themselves pretty well if Mathieu slips up. That said, Mathieu will get paid as he should if he stays the straight and narrow, and at this point, Michael Bidwill was already suggesting to Mathieu the possibility of multiple contracts down the road.
– If you missed a chance yesterday on Memorial Day, be sure to check out Pat Tillman’s words the day after 9/11. Stirring, to say the least.
Tags: draft, Pat Tillman, Tyrann Mathieu
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I’ve written the story before (and my vivid memories of hearing about Pat Tillman’s death, right before the draft in 2004, are chronicled right here). But with the annual Pat’s Run coming up again Saturday, it’s automatic for me to think once again of covering Tillman for the couple of seasons that I did and then his famous story of leaving the NFL for what he saw as a more important calling.
The events in Boston this week, regardless of what (adjective deleted) person did it, again seem to shine a spotlight on what Tillman and (hopefully) all of us believe — which is that we are lucky to live where we live and that as a country we band together in moments like this. I know the organizers of Pat’s Run are taking extra precautions given what happened in Boston’s race, but really, I haven’t thought twice about whether I will still run or not. Of course I will.
I’ve heard from some of late who want to point out that Tillman wasn’t the only soldier to lose his life sacrificing for this country. They are frustrated he is the one always talked about. There is no question there are many others who lost their lives doing the same. But this race is done for the Tillman Foundation, and Pat and his legacy are the reason it exists. It doesn’t take away from any other soldier that this race takes place or garners publicity. The money raised helps veterans. That’s a good cause.
(Speaking of good causes, if you want to take part in the Tillman Tweetup Friday night to raise money for a Tillman Foundation scholarship, tickets are still available for the chance to meet Bruce Arians, Steve Keim and players like Patrick Peterson and Sam Acho. Click here for all the details. I’ll be there too.)
In a week where the real world has invaded sports, it’s a fitting time to remember one of the best examples of the two worlds coming together.
Tags: Pat Tillman, Pat's Run
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After many years of saying he wanted to do it and never quite making it out to Tempe, Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King is finally taking part in Pat’s Run later this month. And with it comes a little something extra the night before.
(It’s all right within his column that also has King too thinking Carson Palmer-to-Arizona will happen, which makes sense to me in some way, shape or form.)
King will be hosting a super-sized Tweetup Friday night, April 19th, at Tom’s Tavern downtown. King has hosted a handful of Tweetups before (for the Twitter non-initiated, a Tweetup is a gathering set up with Twitter followers), most notably at the Scouting combine in Indianapolis the past few years. King wanted to do a Tweetup to somehow benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation if he was going to come out and run the race. The Cardinals are helping him do that.
King’s goal is to raise enough money to fund a Tillman Foundation scholarship. Tickets for the event are $40 — space is limited to 250 people — but it has an impressive lineup of Tweetup events:
– Food: Happy hour & carb-loading (pasta) stations
– Two drink tickets – redeemable for house wine & draft beer (other drink options available for purchase w proceeds benefiting Pat Tillman Foundation)
– Football discussion/Q&A moderated by King with Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, new GM Steve Keim and new head coach Bruce Arians
– Cardinals cheerleaders & Big Red to attend plus cameos from Cardinals players (Who exactly is still TBD)
– Auction items/raffles to benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation.
The Tweetup will be from 5-7 p.m. Got to get to bed early for the 7 a.m. race, right? (I’ll be running. Will you?)
Tickets go on sale this morning via phone (602) 379-0102 and at both Cardinals box office locations in Tempe and Glendale, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to the Pat Tillman Foundation. With phone orders through April 6th, tickets can be mailed out. After that, tickets must be picked up at a box office prior to 3 p.m. on April 19th.
If you want to follow Peter on Twitter, he’s at @SI_PeterKing. You can follow me at @cardschatter, and the team account is @AzCardinals. And if you want to take part in this Tweetup — whether you are on Twitter or not, if you are running in Pat’s Run or not, make the call.
Tags: Pat Tillman, Pat's Run, Peter King
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A couple of tidbits as I return from some time off:
The NFL’s draftees are in Canton this week for the annual rookie symposium, a plan last in place back in 2008. A brainchild of Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who thought it was important young players understand the history of the league, the draftees get to see the Hall of Fame while attending seminars how to deal with life as a pro athlete. Below is a picture of some Cards’ rookies looking at a Hall display (that’s Nate Potter on the left, Michael Floyd on the right). There’s also a shot of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who grew up in a military family, checking out the Pat Tillman display. (A photo gallery is here.)
– In other news, longtime ESPN anchor Chris Berman, who has been the face of that network’s TV coverage, will finally get a chance to do a couple games of play-by-play in the NFL this season. The network trumpeted his placement on the second “Monday Night Football” game of opening weekend — Chargers at Raiders — with the annual doubleheader that night, working with Trent Dilfer. But Berman’s actual debut in the booth for play-by-play will be a couple weeks earlier, calling the Cardinals’ preseason game in Tennessee that will be televised nationally on ESPN.
“That’s great news,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said on Berman’s move to the booth. “I don’t know if there’s anyone who brings more enthusiasm and passion to his job than Chris Berman. For a lot of fans and people involved with the game, Chris is synonymous with the big time NFL events so this it’s exciting that he’s doing our preseason game against the Titans.”
Tags: ESPN, Hall of Fame, Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Floyd, Michael Irvin, Nate Potter, Pat Tillman
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