The Arizona Cardinals have never had a real rival.
Not when they were in the NFC East with New York, Philadelphia, Dallas and Washington, and not when they moved to the NFC West in 2002. Arizona has been without a true rival – until now.
For the first time in a long time Arizona has a team to hate and a team that hates them just as much. And these teams need no introduction. The San Francisco 49ers and the Cardinals are the cream of the crop in the NFC West and they clearly despise each other.
The main leaders in fueling the rivalry are team leaders Darnell Dockett from Arizona and Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis and Takeo Spikes from the 49ers. Willis signed an ESPN Chris Mortenson bus “NFC West Champs,” Spikes told Dockett at the ESPYs that it’s about time the 49ers win the division. Davis said Cards safety Adrian Wilson can’t guard him and also said the Cardinals better get 24 (Wilson’s number) some help.
Dockett has been motivated by the 49ers’ self-proclaimed ascension up the NFC West ladder and takes a lot of pride in taking shots at them. Here are a few of his recent tweets:
Ahhhhh hell naw Brian westbrook one of my best friends !! This is BS! Oh well I hope he know its not personal! but fu%^ it! #MNF #HITSTICK
Dear: Glen Coffee, don’t retire just yet! just wait till after the MNF game then you will have a legit reason to retire!! #EVL
Last time I checked we are the NFC WEST CHAMPS back to back! And it aint over till WE say its over! We will see when that time comes #52
To understand what makes a great rivalry one must be able to decipher between dislike and hate. Great rivalries are fueled by hate. The Cardinals hate that the 49ers beat them both times they played last season. The 49ers hate that they beat Arizona twice last year yet still lost out on the NFC West title to them. The games are physical – extremely physical – as both teams try to impose their will on their opponent.
Steve Breaston joined the Gambo and Ash show on Tuesday and said “I’m not dumb, I know there is a feud going on.” Linebacker Daryl Washington joined the program and the rookie said that if his teammates hate the 49ers he does as well.
With predictions already coming in that has San Francisco winning the division, Arizona is doing everything it can to maintain its dominance in the NFC West and keep San Francisco down, even using the new-found medial love for Mike Singletary’s group as motivation. This year the rivalry will only get better and those two games between the rivals will become must see TV.