The only battle left to win is the one inside the heart, mind and soul of #13.
The Cardinals glorious (more on that in a moment) 2009 season came to a splintering halt Saturday in New Orleans. You can ruminate on the injuries and the collective empty gas tank to your heart’s desire; when you lose 45-14 you weren’t the better football team that day. Period.
Now the line in the sand has been drawn. If Kurt Warner returns, the Arizona Cardinals will defend their NFC West title, will return to the playoffs and will have a shot at winning the Super Bowl. If he doesn’t then we are all (coaches, players, owners, fans and media alike) thrown into a hazy sense of doubt and insecurity.
I have no idea what he’ll do.
Moments before kickoff yesterday, had you asked; I would have said….he’s coming back. They’re too good with him. He’s too good with them. He’s playing at a level that very few in this league can achieve…of course he’s coming back.
Then the game started and he was hit, pushed around, fumbled a handoff, saw his teammate drop a ball, pressure….lots of pressure, that extra second pause on one knee that suggested he needed a moment to clear his head. And of course, the brutal blow that forced his temporary exit. The constant shots by the Fox crew of his concerned wife in the crowd added a whole new level of dread to the episode. What was she thinking and what does she want? Rightly so; it matters.
So now I don’t know.
What I do know is this season has been a smashing success: 10 wins. Back to back division titles. Avoiding the Team-That-Loses-The-Super-Bowl curse. The win over the Packers, which might end up as the souvenir moment for the entire playoffs. This season fulfilled every expectation set forth for the 2009 Arizona Cardinals and don’t let anyone tell you different.
And so begins perhaps the most talked about offseason in the history of the team. Is Boldin a goner? Does DRC need surgery? How much money does Karlos Dansby want and will the Cardinals give it to him. What is the future of the Beanie Wells/Tim Hightower combo platter? Will the Cardinals do the right thing and give the head coach the raise he so richly deserves?
But today, I’m trying to empathize with the future Hall of Fame QB. Trying to think about what I would do if I was in his situation.
I know what I want. I know what the fans, his coaches and his teammates all want. What does he want?
Today, nothing else matters.