Recently I used “beleaguered” to describe the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL. Yet, some may ask, is it not true the Cardinals reached the 2009 Super Bowl and made noise in the following season’s playoffs?
But “beleaguered” is correct if you look at it in the organizational sense. In reality it was “the same old Cardinals” mind-set in ’09 disguised in the unexpected rejuvenation of quarterback Kurt Warner who carried them despite the coaching and management blunders that have bedeviled the franchise for many, many years.
The recently fired coach Ken Whisenhunt, for instance, was still of the opinion as 2008 started that California golden-boy Matt Leinart was the team’s future at quarterback and that despite a fine 2007 season Warner could not take them to the Promised Land. Leinart, injured the previous year, was returned as starter until he completely blew up in the third pre-season game in ’08, that led to the Super Bowl. If there ever was an indictment against Whisenhunt’s ability to judge talent, that was it.
And it was still the same organization that drafted tackle Levi Brown with the fifth pick in 2007 over heralded running back Adrian Peterson. Brown starts his 7th season with the Cardinals as an oft-injured and ordinary player, while Peterson missed by nine yards of setting an NFL rushing record this season with Minnesota. On his way no doubt to the Hall of Fame.
And who can forget the loss of standouts like wide receiver Anquan Boldin, linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Antrel Rolle, all likely due to money issues?
It is the organization that made the ridiculous decision in 2011 to re-sign wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for an outrageous longterm contract when the team had no quarterback to deliver him the ball and a jillion other problems that needed fixing.
At some point, the media will have to wake up and begin harping on the real culprits, the team’s ownership. Beleaguered is still the operational word here.