CLEARWATER, HOME OF XENU

Well, I'm off to Tampa. I may even visit Clearwater to get audited by the Scientology Mothership.

I feel strange and conflicted about this experience. After 30 years of being essentially the only Cardinals fan on Earth I dislike the feeling that I have to share this with 100 million viewers around the globe. One of my favorite parts of the playoffs this year is listening to the national media (who have obviously never paid two seconds of attention to the team) saying things like "Wow, this Fitzgerald fellow is pretty good!" Thanks for the scoop, guys. Yeah, he's pretty much the best football player on this, and I assume any other, planet. We've known that for five years. It's cute that you're surprised.

Now the secret is out. A lot of people have gotten to see that, yes, guys like Fitzgerald, Boldin, and Adrian Wilson will do things on a weekly basis that the human body should not be capable of doing. I hope the team does itself proud even if it loses.

I wonder how I am going to feel if they lose given A) the obscene cost of this endeavor and B) the fact that it'll probably be 60 years until they get another shot at the title. I have serious doubts about their ability to beat Pittsburgh. The Steelers might just be too damn good defensively. But if we score 35 on everyone, maybe that means we can at least hang 17 or 21 on Pitt and hope our defense, which is far better than anyone realizes, can have the game of its life.

I went to my first Cardinals game in 1987. When they were still in St. Louis. I've been to a couple in Arizona and plenty of midwestern road games. I don't think I've missed more than 5 or 10 games on TV since 1995 (when DirecTV debuted). Before that, my dad and I used to drive into the middle of nowhere (between Kankakee and Urbana) to pick up the faint signal of KMOX St. Louis and follow the games on the radio. We're a little hardcore. There will be a lot of happy Arizonans if they win, but deep down I'm going to feel a lot more payoff than the average bandwagon-hopping Phoenician.

That's human nature, isn't it? Everyone likes to point at the band and say "I heard of them first. Liked 'em way before they were popular." So be it.

If nothing else, like the White Sox World Series run in 2005 this is a welcome diversion from the glum reality of the job market, politics, and the economy.

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8 Responses to “CLEARWATER, HOME OF XENU”

  1. Nate Says:

    100,000,000 – 1, Ed. I won't be watching. :)

  2. Shane Says:

    I confess I am a fan by default because I am a Phonecian and I have probably only been to 2 games in my whole life. At least I did not sell out and start supporting Indiana teams when we moved. I hope the Cardinal's kick ass and that you have a great time. You will most likely be the conspicous pale guy on the Cardinal side. I am always the conspicous white one in a sea of tan everytime I return home. Hopefully they won't mistake you for an embedded Steeler fan.

  3. FMguru Says:

    I will be rooting for the Cardinals, whose ability to defy the "experts" and send supposedly "better" teams home for the season has been a balm to my soul, but the odds are very, very long against them. The Steelers are just that good – they make no mistakes, they capitalize on other mistakes, and their defense just slowly suffocates the life out of the other team. Here's hoping the Greatest Show On Turf 2.0 can defeat the odds, but I'm expecting a 1990s-style blowout.

  4. j Says:

    Have fun Ed! When I think of the 50,000 traveling football fans to go to the superbowl, I can scarcely imagine anyone else as blithely cynical as you.

  5. Ed Says:

    Ah, that Steeler defense. Much is said about it, but someone needs to remind the media what happens when you blitz Kurt Warner.

    Career rating against the blitz: 113.0. Best in NFL history. We Cardinal faithful have a saying about him – if you blitz him, you better get him. If he gets rid of the ball, I can't imagine Pitt is going to have very good luck covering Boldin and Fitzgerald 1-on-1 with their pedestrian corners.

  6. Batocchio Says:

    I like the Steelers, but have to root for the Cardinals in this one.

    Oh, and if you do actually go to get audited by the Xenu crowd on a lark – do not give your real name or contact information.

  7. Blakenator Says:

    I just saw this post and I must say I was jazzed at the Cardinals finally doing well. I have been a fan since they were in Chicago and the last year they won the NFL title was the year I was born. If the Bidwells weren't such boneheads, they could have done better over the years. Remember, they let Don Coryell go and dismanteled a team that had great potential in the '70s.

  8. Ed Says:

    Ironically, this Super Bowl team is far from their best team ever. The early 70s team – Hart, Metcalf, Wilson, Werhli, Banks, Mel Gray, Dierdorf, Jackie Smith – was the best they've put on the field. Sadly back in those days Bidwill was beyond clueless. He looks positively enlightened today in comparison.