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Dan Bickley

Kliff Kingsbury’s house latest example of coach’s cool demeanor, vibe

(Twitter photo/@AZCardinals)

Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t brag. He doesn’t flaunt. He understands celebrity culture and the destructive forces accompanying jealousy and hate.

That’s why his house matters.

It’s more than a cliché/meme/contemporary $4.5 million masterpiece in Paradise Valley. More than the newly-minted star of the NFL draft, so swank that it inspired Lego replicas.

It also offered a clean look into how much life has changed for the Cardinals head coach.

“I just wanted to have some fun with it,” Kingsbury said on Monday. “Show off the Chamber of Commerce weather we have here in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. Just enjoy it all.”

When Kingsbury was hired in Jan. 2019, the NFL’s old guard recoiled in horror. Sean Payton eviscerated the hiring without naming names. Kingsbury absorbed those verbal grenades, using the platform to pay homage to the Saints head coach.

But the biggest dogs never bark, and it was hardly an accident when Kingsbury called for a successful trick play against Payton when they finally met in late October, on the second play from the scrimmage.

Former head coach Rex Ryan wasn’t nearly as discreet, personally attacking Kingsbury in the middle of training camp.

“C’mon, college football,” Ryan said. “I hope it gets smoked. I really do, because I think it’s so boring. Kingsbury says, ‘Wait until Week 1.’ Oh, I can’t wait to see Week 1. They’re going to get whipped Week 1. Look, this guy … everyone talks about this great offense and all that. Yeah, if it’s fantasy football and you want points and yardage, that’s great. How about wins?

“Kingsbury, let’s face it, had the best player in our league (at Texas Tech). He was 13-16 with Pat Mahomes at quarterback. How about you worry about wins.”

Ryan is full of bad takes. He was 61-66 as NFL head coach, occasionally inspiring football players, mostly those on the other team. Kingsbury never makes that mistake.

But after two quarters as a NFL head coach, at halftime of a Week 1 home game against the lowly Lions, Ryan was more right than wrong. Kingsbury was anxious, his offense floundering, a head coach wondering if he really belonged.

And you know what else he was wondering about?

That house. One of the newest stars in the NFL.

“I’m not exaggerating,” Kingsbury said during The Ryen Russillo Podcast. “I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe just bought that house. I’m gonna be here two games and they’re gonna fire me.”

Kingsbury’s house is a powerful symbol in other ways. It’s like the trophies propped up behind Kurt Warner during stay-at-home television interviews. Or Bill Belichick wearing his Super Bowl rings to the NFL Combine. They are trinkets of success and credibility. They speak to the audience, especially resonant among young players.

It’s way more than money. Every player drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft could’ve paid for Kingsbury’s house with their signing bonus, from the $23.9 million slotted for Joe Burrow to the $5.4 million awarded to the 32nd pick in the draft.

It’s the swag. It’s the Kingsbury vibe. The Cardinals head coach is stylish and single, with three cellphones on the table. Cool enough to rarely buy socks and rarely wear hats. Young enough to have recruited a lot of players when they were coming out of high school.

When asked if his soaring brand was a tangible advantage for the Cardinals, Kingsbury instantly deferred to Larry Fitzgerald (“He’s done it better than anybody ever”); Kyler Murray (“two-sport athlete, has a lot of buzz about him”); Patrick Peterson (“always one of the coolest DBs, can play offense, can play defense and punt return); DeAndre Hopkins (“brings a lot of swagger … one of the top wide receivers in the game”); and Chandler Jones (“who’s up there in sacks.”)

As for Kingsbury’s house?

“I think people were just bored,” Kingsbury said.

Not now. Not anymore.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to ArizonaSports.com.
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier