SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It seems like a long time ago now that Bruce Arians left Arizona Cardinals practice for a hospital while suffering from stomach pain.
It was actually just two weeks ago, on Aug. 16, and while there was definitely some concern that night, everyone soon learned that the 63-year-old was suffering from diverticulitis and would be fine.
Arians returned to the field the next day, and since then everything has gone along as it all normally would.
And why wouldn’t it?
“Great,” Arians said when asked how he was feeling Monday evening at the Fitz’s Supper Club 2016, a celebrity service and comedy night hosted by Dominick’s Steakhouse. “I’m 100 percent, and everything’s behind me. Just a little change of diet and we’ll see how everything goes.”
Arians admitted it was a scary time for him, though. He did not know what was going on and hoped it was a kidney stone, which he could have gotten rid of. It being diverticulitis isn’t too bad because while it can be an ongoing thing, there was no other damage.
At least, no damage to anything other than his eating habits.
“They put me on a diet for 10 days, now I’m going onto a high-fiber, different diet,” the coach said. “So hopefully I can lose some weight doing it.”
Arians joked that he hasn’t dropped any pounds yet but lost 30 over the summer, and now the doctors have taken him off “my good diet.”
As they say, all’s well that ends well. However, if Arians was a bit worried when it was going on, you can only imagine how his wife, Christine, felt.
“Well, I knew right away it was diverticulitis; I diagnosed it from Georgia,” she said with a laugh. “Just from what they were telling me.”
Mrs. Arians said she doesn’t have to hide all the good food from her husband, who himself said it wouldn’t work even if she tried.
“I know him way too well,” she conceded.
Expectations? That’s cool
More than any other season, even more than the one following the team’s appearance in Super Bowl XLIII, the Cardinals could feel the weight of expectations.
Entering the season, they are not only seen as a Super Bowl contender but in some eyes are viewed as the favorite to win the big game. They won 13 regular season games last season and reached the NFC Championship Game, so it’s not necessarily a surprising stance.
Yet, while some may shy away from that kind of talk, the Cardinals — led by Arians — have embraced it.
“We have a window to win a Super Bowl, and this is one of the years to do it,” Arians said. “It’s not a one-year window. You want those expectations; you don’t want to be on a team that hopes you’re 3-13 and getting better every day. I’ve been on those, too, and that’s not much fun.
“This is a lot of fun coaching these guys. Expectations are great, and we love it. Is it pressure? No, it’s just expectations, and when you’re talented enough to fulfill the expectations, it’s fun to go to work every day.”
The Cardinals are not the only team that is legitimately thinking Super Bowl, of course, so they would not be the only ones feeling pressure if indeed it is there. But then again, given how little success the Cardinals have had in their history, it’s fair to assume that there is a certain level of tension coming into the season.
After all, this seems to be the best team in the team’s history, so if it can’t win a championship…
General manager Steve Keim has been in that role since 2013 but was with the organization for a long time before that, and his perspective on the Super Bowl hopes is that of someone who understands just how far the organization has come.
“I really never have a chance — because of tunnel-vision — I don’t have a chance to sit back and pat myself on the back, or our players or our organization,” he said. “I’m more focused on building sustainable success, which is what’s important. And that’s keeping an eye on today and an eye on three years from now, which is part of my job.
“But I think the thing that I take away more than anything is being here for 18 years, and thinking about coming here as a young scout and seeing one or two Arizona Cardinal hats around the Valley and being excited thinking there’s a Cardinal fan when today the area is littered with red. It’s Cardinal paraphernalia everywhere, and that’s given me a great sense of pride and that’s what it’s all about.”
Relax, it’s preseason
The Cardinals are 0-3 this preseason and really haven’t looked particularly good in achieving that record.
But everyone should breathe and perhaps relax with the knowledge that none of the games will count in the final standings.
“It’s really, it’s the preseason,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said of the struggles. “I remember the Detroit Lions years ago when they went 0-16, they were 4-0 in the preseason, and the Patriots, when they went 16-0 in the regular season, they were 0-4 in the preseason.”
Actually, those Patriots went 2-2 in the exhibition games, but Fitzgerald’s point is that the records in these games have no bearing on what is about to transpire.
“So you can take some things, you can’t take some things from the preseason,” he said. “I think it’s important for us just to understand we have a good team, we have a group that can compete with anybody in the National Football League. We just have to do whatever we can to control our own destinies.”
Fitzgerald said if there has been any panic in the streets over the preseason losses, he has yet to see and hear it. That concern, however vocal and prominent it may be, is normal, according to Arians.
“Nobody wants to go 0-3. You always play the game to win,” he said. “But there’s more things to winning for us right now. It’s building that roster depth, especially with young players. Our starters have played, I don’t know, 45 (snaps), maybe less than that because I was taking them out early in this game because they played well, other than the turnovers, both sides of the ball.
“So the injury to Mike Jenkins was terrible and there was no way in hell I was going to have another one.”
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