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Game Preview! 10 Pieces of Stuff About the Arizona Cardinals

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1. The Arizona Cardinals recently celebrated their 10th consecutive year of being called a "dark horse upset special for the NFC Playoffs."

   
A timid, non-threatening Cardinal logo.

 
   
2. All right... this year, they look pretty okay. Offensively the Cardinals, as a group, are finally jelling, as still-capable veterans run with their younger counterparts who are poised to have standout careers.

Indeed, the Cardinals are melding together in surprising and fresh combinations, like varied cheeses on a deli plate.

Quarterback Kurt Warner, mature and well-seasoned, is like Parmigiano Reggiano, the long-aged king of cheeses. The twin receiving threats of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are complementary, yet readily distinctive types of Dutch Edam cheese: aged a bit less, but bold, assertive and flexible. And finally, there's new running back Edgerrin James, whose nimble and subtle skills recall French Raclette cheese: outwardly tame, but when paired with herbs or white wine, an incontrovertibly effective conveyance of aroma and flavor.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals' offensive line is like cheap-ass processed Kraft Swiss singles.

3. Incidentally, Warner was Week 1's NFC Offensive Player of the Week. So I was dead-on about the Parmigiano Reggiano thing.

   
    Matt Leinart is holding out on this story until he's paid what he's worth.
? Arizona Cardinals.

 
4. The Cardinals have lost three straight games to Seattle, in which Shaun Alexander was allowed a total of 467 yards on the ground, and not one, not two, but nine touchdowns.

5. The Arizona Cardinals' mascot was redesigned a couple of years ago to go along with their new uniforms. As the Seahawks did with their bird logo awhile back, the new Cardinal logo is given a more pronounced scowl to give the impression of irritability and the implication of quiet, seething menace.

This representation of the cardinal is wholly inaccurate. In fact, the inaccuracy is something of an insult to biology. Cardinals have very strong beaks, but they're stout and compressed. They are classified as passerine birds, which generally speaking are songbirds, not birds of prey. The Latin origin of the word is passer?nus, which translates to "of a sparrow." Passerine birds, such as cardinals, eat seeds.

Hawks, on the other hand, are among the most intelligent and predatory birds in the world. They consume meat. They suck up mice, rats, fish, rabbits, squirrels, Whoppers, prosciutto served with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and, ominously, smaller birds. Hawks have the blood of the hunter pre-installed. They are ruthless, sublimely carnivorous. They seek, they prey upon, they find, they feast, they leave your apartment before your alarm goes off in the morning, take a taxi home and never call you again.

Cardinals sing pretty birdy songs. Hide under your desks everybody, the cardinal is about to issue a strongly-worded press release!

(I'm also working on demystifying the Cleveland Browns' logo, which is technically just a paint chip. And quite obviously orange.)

6. Placekicker Neil Rackers, on the other hand, would make an excellent bird of prey.

7. The Cardinals beat the 49ers in Week 1, in what turned out to be a high-scoring game. This says a little about the 49ers' very marginally improved offense, but probably more about why we can reasonably expect to score more than 9 points on Sunday.

   
A surly, vaguely cranky Cardinal logo.

 
   
8. This just in! Has-been rock band Warrant just offered Cardinals Stadium thirty bucks so they could rename the facility "Cherry Pie Field."

I know what you're thinking, Chuck Berry, and you can forget it right now. "My Ding-a-Ling Stadium" will not happen.

(Dossier on the above joke. )

9. But how will the Cardinals shut down the Seahawks' leading receiver, Mack Strong? A nation wakes, then hits the snooze bar, and then wakes again.

10. Frankly, I feel the Cardinals have been going downhill ever since Rod Tidwell retired.