ARIZONA CARDINALS

Kliff Kingsbury is in love with football: Ask him or ESPN’s Joe Tessitore

Aug 14, 2019, 8:43 AM
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during the NFL prese...
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during the NFL preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers at State Farm Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Chargers 17-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Another somewhat meaningless preseason game puts the Arizona Cardinals center stage.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew led by play-by-play man Joe Tessitore will call their Thursday matchup against the Oakland Raiders, the talk of the NFL because of a featured role on “Hard Knocks.”

Oakland receiver Antonio Brown’s recent threat to end his football career over a football helmet controversy only spiced things up.

The Cardinals have their storylines as well. Thursday will mark their national introduction of Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the controversial hire expected to bring offensive innovation to a team coming off a 3-13 season.

Is he going to fail as a Ryan Gosling lookalike hired for spectacle, the thought leading talking heads like Stephen A. Smith to rant very loudly against his hire? Or is Kingsbury’s real personality — the self-disciplined football nut — going to prove doubters wrong?

What’s no doubt true is that Kingsbury is an efficient, straightforward football guy. He made that clear while answering a facetious question about Brown’s helmet kerfuffle on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta this week.

“… Have you ever fallen so in love with a helmet that you’re willing to walk away from the game?” co-host Vince Marotta asked Kingsbury on Monday.

“I haven’t fallen in love with a woman that I’m willing to walk away from the game for,” Kingsbury retorted.

That was a joke.

But it’s also the truth if you ask anyone in the Cardinals facility about their head coach.

Tessitore believes it, too.

Before he became the lead voice for Monday Night Football last season, Tessitore was an ESPN play-by-play announcer in the college ranks. He got to know Kingsbury during that time, and he doesn’t see a different coach from the one that led Texas Tech from 2013-18.

“You know what’s funny about Kliff … he is a football guy to the core,” Tessitore told 98.7 FM’s Doug & Wolf on Wednesday. “OK, the way he looks and the swag he has and all the ‘Coach Bro’ B.S. that’s just a label, that’s whatever — you can completely throw it out.

“This is a football guy, this is a grinder. This is a guy who has an unparalleled passion for the sport and for offense and growing up the son of a coach, and a guy you have to throw out of the film room. He’s the same guy.”

Kingsbury led Texas Tech to an underwhelming 35-40 record in six years there. While his offenses were always prolific, there’s no argument he must prove that can translate to the NFL.

The Cardinals must also prove their unique piecing-together of Kingsbury’s coaching staff can work. He has put most of his focus into the quarterbacks room and offensive play-calling, giving defensive coordinator Vance Joseph the pressure of managing a roster with a few holes and even more depth issues on that side of the ball.

But ask those around the Cardinals, or Tessitore, and the answers are the same.

Kingsbury knows how to prepare for the game and knows how to lead. Whatever happens next shouldn’t be an indictment on his work ethic or his resume.

“He’s also a guy who’s really great to hang with and is laid-back and conversational and thoughtful,” Tessitore said. “There has never been a time when I’ve been with Kliff in all the years of doing his games — and back even when he was an assistant and a young play-caller and doing his bowl games when he was (a player) at Tech — where the first thing he doesn’t do is not remember your kids, remember your family situation, ask how everybody’s doing and just be a good, social, likable guy.

“First and foremost, he’s likable. He’s a real likable guy, but he’s a football guy to the core.”

Array

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Houston Texans defensive tackle Roy Lopez (91) battles Arizona Cardinals guard Justin Pugh during t...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals-Bears injury report: OL Justin Pugh a game-time decision

Arizona offensive lineman Justin Pugh missed a second straight day of practice Thursday with a lingering calf injury.
2 days ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals look on during the second h...
Tyler Drake

Kyler Murray, Isaiah Simmons not taking the Kingsbury-to-Oklahoma bait

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray isn't putting too much stock into the report that Oklahoma is targeting Kliff Kingsbury as its next head coach.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins returns to the practice field Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Temp...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins, QB Kyler Murray easing back in practice

The Cardinals saw one of their biggest pieces offensively in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins make his return to the practice field on Wednesday.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen (94) celebrates his sack against the San Francisco 49ers...
Tyler Drake

Back at it: Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals use bye week to their advantage

While the time away from the football field is needed for any team, there's a fine line between refueling and getting complacent.
4 days ago
Arizona Cardinals RB Jonathan Ward runs through a drill during training camp Thursday, July 29, 202...
Jake Anderson

Arizona Cardinals place RB Jonathan Ward on Reserve/COVID-19 list

The Arizona Cardinals placed RB Jonathan Ward on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. He has not played since Oct. 28 due to a concussion.
4 days ago
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields warms up before an NFL football game against the Baltimore ...
Tyler Drake

The final countdown: A look at the Cardinals’ remaining matchups in 2021

With the bye done and over with, it's time for the Arizona Cardinals to reengage for a final playoff push to end the season.
4 days ago
Kliff Kingsbury is in love with football: Ask him or ESPN’s Joe Tessitore