To borrow a phrase from the legendary Ron Burgundy, “ I’m trapped in a glass case of emotions.”
Alright, it’s not really glass, it’s more of a metaphorical case, but the emotions are as real as ever.
As Cardinals fans we’ve never been in this situation before. A team who will have a winning record but likely won’t make it into the postseason. Alright, let’s be honest, we haven’t had to deal with a winning team very often at all, three times in 26 years to be exact. So it’s all technically new to us.
Really, how are we supposed to feel about the entire thing?
Every other time we’ve had “a winner in town” — yeah, sorry Buddy Ryan, you don’t qualify — the Valley has caught Cardinal Red Fever. Fans were ecstatic flying flags, waving banners and lighting up the lines of sports talk shows like a person with a shopping addiction, new credit card and the QVC channel. It was next to impossible to go anywhere or tune into any type of media without being inundated with more coverage than a high speed chase during primetime.
This year? Not so much.
It begs the question, is this season a success without a playoff appearance?
If you believe Herm Edwards, then yes. “You play to win the game(s)!” and the Cards will have more in the win column than the loss column no matter what happens the rest of the way. But isn’t that basically the sports equivalent of a person who just lost at the Academy Awards saying it was ‘just nice to be nominated for an Oscar”?
Fans want to see their team play on the big stage in January. They don’t want a consolation prize. The Cards threw the moral victory option out the window when they proved during the Kurt Warner era that you can in fact be a contender even though you have an unassuming red bird on the side of your helmet.
Has this season been fun? Yes.
Does it give immense hope for the future? Yes.
Is it confirmation that Steve Keim and Bruce Arians were the right hires? Most definitely.
Does it make missing the postseason palatable for anyone involved? No.
Unless the football gods bestow a massive holiday miracle on the Cards it will be another new year without the chance at a Lombardi Trophy. It’s nice to add another winning season to the record books but it means yet again, our favorite football team will be synonymous with “no playoffs.” You don’t need a glass case to contain that emotion. It’s simply just sadness.