22 painful, blissful, agonizing, joyful, lackluster, incredible years.
These have been the standard feelings of your lifer Arizona Cardinal fan. I am a lifer.
Before we get there, let me introduce myself first. I originally grew up in Los Angeles as a die hard basketball fan. Basketball in LA is everything, the Lakers are everything. Professional football (the NFL) was an afterthought in LA, especially with the Lakers, Dodgers, UCLA and USC being all very successful teams. The NFL left LA and as a blossoming sports fanatic I didn’t even think twice. I had my Lakers and that was all that mattered.
Jump to January of 1994 and everything changed. The Northridge earthquake uprooted our house and subsequently my family moved to sunny Scottsdale, AZ. We loved everything about Arizona; the easy living, lack of LA traffic, cost of living, etc. Unknown to anyone outside the state, we even had a professional football team. My Dad came across an opportunity to buy season tickets that were so affordable at the time that it was a no brainer. Little did I know that those season tickets would change my life forever.
Fast forward 22 years. Four games into the 2016 football season. As a lifer Cardinals fan, we have experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. We have almost seen it all. From the “Cardiac Cards” of the late 90s, the Denny Green era, the Super Bowl run, and even the Dark Days of post Kurt Warner. Then there was last year, the 2015 NFL season. As a Cardinal fan, it was the highest of all the seasons. Even during the Super Bowl run in 2008, there was always this feeling of “Just happy to be here.” Last year, this team; this was different. This team was special.
Coming into 2016, the expectations were never higher and to be frank, that scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know how to comprehend this. Super Bowl or bust? What the F is happening? This is foreign territory for us. Needless to say, it was still damn exciting. This was the year the valley had been waiting for, professional football mattered. People outside Arizona knew the Cardinals, especially after the release of Amazon.com’s “All or Nothing”. There are not one, but two Arizona Cardinals featured in both Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football’s opening sequence. This IS OUR YEAR!
And that’s what makes the 17-13 loss to the LA Rams so hard. We can all break down the game and agonize over turnovers, penalties and missed assignments, but the reality is the season is slipping away and this is new territory for Cardinals fans. We thought we had experienced it all, but nothing compares to this. Nothing compares to the feeling of having our year ripped from us. The season is still very young and this team is so talented, but the 2016 Arizona Cardinals are on the brink. This is not the time to start questioning the direction of the franchise, the coaching or play calling. Now is the time where the Cardinals need us most; the loyal valley fans that have been through everything with this franchise. We have all been burned far too many times and it’s easy for us to say “same old Cardinals.” But not now, not this year. We are in uncharted waters. It may be rough now, but we are in this together; just like it has always been.