Few people have a neutral opinion about “America’s Team”. In fact when you ask even the average fan about the team with the big blue star, opinions run strong, either in a positive or negative direction. Truth be told, those who share the negative feelings about the Cowboys are not caused by the success of the Aikman, Smith and Irvin era or even the arrogance of a team from Texas being hailed as “Everyone’s Team”. The generation who either adopted or were raised as Cardinal Fans had to put up with the annual visit of the team with the big blue star. It was as if the conquering heros were doing us a favor by allowing us to watch them in person.
I understand why there are so many Cowboy fans in the valley. Before the arrival of the Cardinals and Direct TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket the weekly regional games televised by NBC & CBS in Arizona featured either the Cowboys, Broncos or Chargers, so I get it.
But it is now 2011. The Cardinals have secured a home, a fan base and have had some success over the recent years. However, despite the Cardinals being in the valley for 23 seasons, that big blue star of “America’s Team” will again take over the stands at University of Phoenix Stadium this coming Sunday.
The most promising aspect of this event for Cardinals fans is that the Cardinals themselves have not been intimidated, especially over the last two meetings in Glendale.
Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett talked about the Cowboys offensive line Wednesday after practice. They are “Big guys coming in with the stars on their helmet trying to intimidate you. I’m in my 8th year, that don’t bother me. I’ll actually laugh at it now. It’s hilarious.”
That has been the Cardinals mentality the last two times they have faced the Cowboys at home and has come back to work in their favor.
A Sean Morey blocked punt in overtime in 2008 and a John Skelton-led Christmas gift in 2010 have allowed Cardinals fans to leave University of Phoenix Stadium with their heads held high.
The mentality of the entire franchise changed once Ken Whisenhunt took over and Kurt Warner was under center. While the Cardinals as a whole have not seen the same success since Captain Grey Beard retired, that new mentality toward the dreaded Cowboys has remained the same.
It is my hope that it stays that way this Sunday. Whether the Cardinals are 4-8 or 8-4 entering the game, I am sure that all Cardinals fans would agree, there are few better feelings than watching dejected Cowboys fans leave University of Phoenix Stadium after a Cowboy loss.
Perhaps a Cardinal season of injuries and unmet expectations can be remembered for the highlight of beating the playoff-bound Cowboys and add to the future building of “Arizona’s Team”.