Cardinals’ moves have certainly created a buzz
By Darren Urban, Tribune
May 7, 2006
The fans descended on the Cardinals’ Tempe facility Saturday morning, a healthy crowd looking for their first glimpse of the team everyone seems to be talking about.
OK, maybe not everyone.
“Let’s not talk about the buzz,” veteran safety Adrian Wilson said. “We did that last year. Last year, everyone talked about the buzz and all that, and it came back on us, because everyone read into it.
“We ain’t going to talk about the buzz.”
If only it were that easy. This is the team with the new stadium praised as one of the best sporting structures in the world. This is the team that signed Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James. This is the team that drafted quarterback/paparazzi target Matt Leinart. This is the franchise that on Saturday one onlooker called, without a hint of irony, “America’s team.”
“Everywhere you go . . . it’s the (possible) playoffs, Anquan (Boldin), Kurt (Warner),” receiver Larry Fitzgerald
said. “There is a positive buzz around the team.”
Said Warner, “Hey, there’s a buzz. We just have to live up to it, right?”
The enthusiasm is natural, especially for any NFL team in early May. Almost 4,000 fans showed up for Saturday’s FanFest, on the heels of the announcement earlier in the week the team had sold out its season-ticket packages for 2006.
“With how big the city of Phoenix is, it should have a nice following,” James said. “Having people waiting on a (ticket) list, like in New York, waiting on it for years (for the Giants), that’s what you want to build.”
Gilbert resident Joel Falk, 44, wore his No. 32 James jersey Saturday and had his kids in tow. Falk had never owned a Cardinals jersey, and he had never attended FanFest before.
But he said he wanted to be a part of the Cards’ first season in their new stadium. A friend, frustrated by the Cards’ constant losing record, was going to give up his season tickets
. Falk convinced his friend to instead split them with him.
That was before James came along and Leinart was drafted. The decision looks even smarter now.
“The fans have been pretty loyal,” Falk said. “They deserve a winning team. But this could be a start of a whole new era for the Cardinals. I think there’s a reason for all the hype.”
Cardinals Stadium has been the anchor. It’s the main reason the Cards had a huge jump in season tickets and the main reason the franchise was willing to spend for a free agent like James.
Warner said it isn’t possible to overemphasize the importance of home-field advantage, something the Cards have infrequently had over the years.
The idea the building not only will be full but holding mostly Cardinals fans rather than a crowd tilted toward opponents like the Cowboys or Broncos has also fed optimism.
“That’s going to be crazy,” veteran running back Marcel Shipp said. “Cheering for us.” How easily the Cardinals capture the imagination of the NFL nation will hinge on winning games, but even Wilson acknowledges the team has plenty of “star power.”
“Hollywood Matt, I gave him the name, because it’s like Broadway Joe (Namath),” Wilson said of Leinart. “We got him, we got Edge, we got the guys we already had. “It adds to the flavor of the locker room, gives the locker room a totally different feel. It helped us sell out the stadium.”
And it’s given the Cardinals a real buzz — even if Wilson isn’t talking about it.
Contact Darren Urban by email, or phone (480) 898-6525