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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Jan 12, 2012 - 9:51 pm

Todd Haley would turn up the volume for the Cardinals

You couldn’t hear a thing. And, in hindsight, you didn’t
need to. The look said it for him and, at the same time,
said it all.

Not the look on his face, mind you. In truth, you
couldn’t see that. All you really could see were the
slumped shoulders, along with the single bent knee bearing
all his weight. But what you really saw was utter
dejection. And although you knew it would fade, you also
realized right then that losing a Super Bowl lasts a
lifetime.

Yet, I still couldn’t see his face. Not even from just ten
yards away, which is where I was standing at the end of
Super Bowl 43. Time had just run out. And I ran back
behind the bench to pick up my broadcast gear. Suddenly,
with all the players and coaches at midfield, I was the
last person on the Cardinals sideline. Just Paulie Pigskin
and the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator – who still
hadn’t moved an inch.

Todd Haley just stood there. Staring straight down at his
shoe laces. Music blaring. Confetti blowing. And Haley
looking without blinking – past his play sheet and
directly into the Tampa turf where James Harrison had
raced past two hours earlier with… well, we all remember.

The clock had just expired. On a Super Bowl ring. And
Haley’s coaching career with the Cardinals. Forever. Or so
we thought.

Turns out, here in 2012, Haley might be standing on the
Cards sideline again – although he rarely stands in one
place. Instead, Haley alternates between barking out
plays, tearing off headsets, and pointing fingers into
facemasks.

In other words, he cares. And for those of us outside
professional sports (fans, media, etc.), it always seems
like we care the most about the people who really do care.
Truly care and share the passion, minus the paycheck, for
the game itself. Because, to the rest of us, it’s not our
job, it’s more like an addiction. Somehow, our DNA
dictates that we can’t help but care. Right?

So, my lasting impression of Todd Haley? Beyond that
image of the lone person left on the Cards Super Bowl
sideline is that Haley really cares. Deeply. As we
reported before the Super Bowl season, deep enough to call
Larry Fitzgerald a “One-Trick Pony.” Deep enough to help
resurrect Kurt Warner (I still remember what he told me
late in 2008: “We took the cowboy out of him” –
referring to what Whisenhunt & Haley did to transform Kurt
Warner from the risk-taking/turnover prone QB with the NY
Giants to the “Gloved One” with the Cards.)

Speaking of Whisenhunt, I still remember Haley as one of
the only guys with the carte blanche to readily refer to
Coach W as “Kenny.”

And, as long as we’re running the no-huddle down memory
lane, there’s the Anquan Boldin sideline confrontation,
which I’m still asked about to this day. The real untold
story isn’t what the cameras didn’t catch, it’s that you
could usually set the over/under on sideline smackdowns at
three – per game! And at least one of ‘em would
involve Kurt Warner. (Heck, I still remember a game in DC
where even Paulie Pencilneck had to hustle out of the way
as Haley stormed the sideline ready to go Lou Piniella on
a 5th round rookie named Steve Breaston, who had messed up
a route on 3rd down and killed the drive.)

Which is what made that Super Bowl snapshot so memorable.
For once, Todd Haley wasn’t saying anything. And that
resonates louder than anything else I remember.

With that in mind, if what my NFL sources are saying
proves accurate – that Haley has the “Cardinals atop his
list of non-head coaching opportunities” – then we all
need to break out the ear muffs like Vince Vaughn’s kid in
“Old School,” because the volume is about to be turned up
again this season.

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