With all that being said, I had a great time going to the team’s 2nd training camp practice in Phoenix last Saturday. The first thing I noticed was the short walk to the stadium, nothing like the long hikes up in Flagstaff. While the temperature outside was nearing 110 degrees, inside it was a cool 70 degrees, with no chance of the rain that often ruined practices up in Flagstaff. Concessions were available, clearly training camp for the employees too, and I got a seat with a great view of most of the drills. I was also able to help my fellow fans by joining them in conversation, often pointing out who certain sideline members are and helping them identify that unrecognizable player. This interaction wasn’t always available in Flagstaff, mostly because everyone was just trying to catch a glimpse of the action. The large audience, reported at about 8800, made themselves heard when great plays were made; highlights including a 1 handed snag by breakout candidate Rob Housler and a dazzling cut by Ryan Williams. These bursts of cheer were a reminder that the season is just around the corner; and if that doesn’t excite you, this clearly isn’t your sport.
As I sat there enjoying a beer, I realized that the move to Phoenix mirrored the regime change the Cardinals had gone through this offseason. Flagstaff represents Rod Graves (former GM), Ken Whisenhunt (former Head Coach), and Kevin Kolb (former starting quarterback). While Flagstaff and those individuals all had their moments, moving to Phoenix seems to be a great move right now. GM Steve Keim, Head Coach Bruce Arians, and starting quarterback Carson Palmer are the new shiny toys in town. There will be growing pains, similar to the credit card machine not working while ordering some food, but at the end of the day I think this new regime will be able to work through those issues.
Training camp may be in a different location this year, but it will always signify the beginning of football season. The Cardinals are my favorite team in all professional sports; so for me that means I begin consuming all available information about my Cardinals. This year I began with learning the names of all 90 in camp, but that’s beside the point. Football is back!!!