Trip down memory lane for some Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. -- To some Arizona Cardinals, Candlestick Park will forever hold a few select memories that helped shape their football careers.

To another group, Candlestick Park was just another stop on the schedule, another metal and concrete structure that came to life for a few hours on Sundays.

And to others, if they never saw Candlestick Park again, life would be just the same.

All three will diverge to the bay Sunday when Arizona makes its last regular-season trip to Candlestick. The emotions will run the gamut. The stadium, originally built for the baseball Giants, holds a special place to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and quarterback Carson Palmer.

Fitzgerald’s first NFL touchdown came in Candlestick during his 2004 rookie season off the hand of former Cards quarterback Josh McCown. It was against defensive back Ahmed Plummer in the end zone away from the locker room on the right side. After Fitzgerald scored, he landed in the arms of former Cardinals left guard Reggie Wells.

Those are the details Fitzgerald remembered this week. Those are the details that come to mind whenever he thinks of Candlestick Park.

“Candlestick is probably one of my favorite places to play aside from Lambeau Field, if you think of the history, not only football history but baseball history, in that stadium,” Fitzgerald said. “Just the great plays … Dwight Clark’s big catch in the back of the end zone, the countless championships 49ers teams that played there.

“The greatest receiver of all time played on that field for 15, 16 years. It’s a lot of great memories.”

For Palmer, its where football all but began for him.

It was either in 1992 or 1994, Palmer couldn’t remember which, when he was in the stands for a 49ers-Dallas Cowboys playoff game, his first NFL game.

“I do have an affection for it because growing up in California, you saw a lot of games on TV at Candlestick,” Palmer said. “I’m excited to play there.”

It was also where Jay Feely made his NFL debut with the Atlanta Falcons in 2001, hitting two field goals and an extra point two days before the 9/11 attacks.

Nose tackle Dan Williams won’t miss Candlestick but he won’t ever forget it. It was where he broke his arm in 2011, trying to tackle San Francisco running back Kendall Hunter.

But Williams appreciates the history within those walls. From the great Niners teams of the 1980s and 1990s to the great players, like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young, Williams understands the legacies left in the stadium.

To others, however, that’s all blocked out.

Candlestick is just another stop, just another stadium for linebackers Daryl Washington and John Abraham. But that’s just how it is for some players.

Safety Rashad Johnson doesn’t have any special ties to Candlestick and when the Cardinals go to San Francisco next time, they’ll be playing the same old 49ers, just in a different venue, he said.

The general consensus around the Cardinals is that not many will miss Candlestick, as run down and decrepit as it is, including the team’s head coach.

“No,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Not in the least.”