In the crazy, topsy-turvy world of the NFL sometimes fans just need someone to talk to. So once a week Mag senior writer David Fleming will exchange emails with one lucky (we think) reader. If you'd like to have an email exchange with Flem, click here and pour your pigskin heart out. Go ahead, Flem's listening. And be sure to check out the weekly Flem File on Page 2 tomorrow and every Wednesday.
Did you know that there are only nine Arizona Cardinals fans in this entire country? It's true, I counted. I grew up in Phoenix, and I was eight when the Cardinals moved to town. I figured it was the best thing that could ever happen to me. Boy was I wrong. We had to sit through crappy games at a crappy college stadium for 19 years. We have had exactly five playoff games in the last 61 years. Needless to say, I am writing to you because I think all nine Cardinals fans out there deserve to be heard.
— Rob Loosli, Allentown, PA
FLEM: Nine fans, total? Can you name them?
ROB: Three of them are my brothers (Andy, Mike and Dave), two of them are my brother Andy's roommates (Tim and Joe) and the other three are random people I have met while sitting in the corner of a bar huddled over a 13-inch black and white TV that bar owners drag out for us when we ask to see the Cardinals' games on Sundays (Dan, James and Josh). I thought I found the 10th a few months ago, but he was only wearing a Larry Fitzgerald jersey because he thought it looked cool.
FLEM: The reason I picked you, Rob, is because most of these Dear Flem columns involve fans of teams that never ever (ever … ever) win. So, please tell them what it feels like to have this finally happen. I mean, do you have more energy? Does food taste better? Are you wondering what you should pack for Tampa? How great is life right now after so many bad seasons?
ROB: I would be lying if I said I haven't looked into Super Bowl tickets already. Every true sports fan does that, but I made sure to not go too far in case I jinx my team. And you know what? Food does taste better, I stand up straighter, I walk with more pep and I am more excited about everything I do. The last time I was this giddy was the day my wife said that she would marry me (she's waaay out of my league).
FLEM: I'm actually the president of the Marrying-Up Club. Welcome.
ROB: It's gotten to the point where even my wife (a die hard Steelers fan) cheers for the Cardinals to win each Sunday just so I remain in such high spirits from this dream season that's happening.
FLEM: It's almost Thanksgiving and the Cardinals just won on Monday Night Football and on the road in Seattle, and they have a four-game lead with six to play and a QB who is now an MVP candidate. It must all be so strange.
ROB: I still don't know how to act when the Cards win, it's been my whole life since they actually had a good season. But when your franchise highlights are winning the NFL Championship in 1947 (61 years ago) in Chicago (three cities ago!!) and a wild card playoff win over the Cowboys with Jake "The Snake" Plummer at the helm, we are in dire need of some success. The highlights are vastly outnumbered by the lowlights, but at least we got to provide Denny Green's "crowning" moment as a head coach in the NFL two years ago on a Monday night.
FLEM: Yeah, well to be honest, I'm a little worried that the Cards finally winning is some kind of sign that the end of the world is near.
ROB: The Cardinals are having their best season in what seems like forever, and at the same time, our economy has completely fallen off the face of the earth. Are we sure they aren't related? I'm not. Maybe this season has shifted the balance of the entire economy simply because the Cardinals are having such a good season. It's not completely impossible for me to believe that the Cardinals are to blame for what our country is going through, but you know, I'll gladly suffer through a recession if it means the Cardinals win the Super Bowl. They can go right back to mediocrity after that and I won't complain.
FLEM: Just like the Rams. Seriously, does this all seem too good to be true and are you worried about jinxing the club or having your heart broken--again? Have you been burned so many times you're now worried about crazy things like the Seahawks getting hot or a flu bug taking out the whole Cardinals offense?
ROB: It still wouldn't surprise me if something caused the season to come crashing down.
ROB: Again. But being a Cards fan has always been about being let down. I have had high hopes and expectations so many times only to be let down that it seems normal now. I don't know how to react when we get a big win. Each day I expect to find out that Kurt Warner or Larry Fitzgerald or Anquan Boldin or Adrian Wilson, or all four, have been struck by lightning or run over by a scooter or have had one of their limbs fall off.
FLEM: Okay, so let's get your mind off that topic. That Billy Joel song, do people in Allentown love that or hate it?
ROB: I think I would be tarred and feathered if I didn't like that song now that I live here. It's like our own national anthem, except it's for a city not a nation. So I guess it's our City Anthem.
FLEM: What are you and the other eight Cardinals fans out there enjoying the most about this season?
ROB: I have really enjoyed watching Kurt Warner's second act orchestrating the "Greatest Show on Turf," except for a few small differences. We don't have the best line in football, we don't have a Hall of Fame running back in his prime, and we play on grass. We do however have two of the best receivers in the game, and they make it so much fun to watch. If Warner isn't the MVP so far this season, there shouldn't be an MVP. Maybe I'm biased though.
FLEM: Maybe a little. What else?
ROB: The Cardinals are winning games they never would have won in the past. MNF last week? They would have lost in the past. This past Sunday in Seattle? They hadn't won in Seattle since like 1955. Even the games we've lost, we were in two of the three until the very end. This is the best the Cardinals have looked in my lifetime, and as a fan, that is the best part of the season hands down.
FLEM: Are you worried that, after playing in the soft NFC West, your Cards will make the playoffs, you will get excited and revved up, only to watch them lose, like, 35-0 to the Panthers in the first round?
ROB: Playing in the NFC Worst has certainly been a concern. Yeah, we can beat the terrible teams in our own division, but we have lost all three road games against good teams (Carolina, Washington, NY Jets). Can we win against a top tier team in the playoffs? I don't know for sure, but if we somehow beat the Giants this week at home, and/or beat the Eagles or Patriots on the road before the playoffs, I think I would feel more confident about us making some noise in the playoffs. Although if they make the playoffs and lose in the first round, I don't think I'd be the only one who wouldn't be surprised. Such is life as a Cardinals fan, you always expect the worst.
FLEM: A little bit northwest of you is the town of Pottsville, PA. Are you familiar, at all, with the Cardinals Curse that dates back to the 1925 NFL championship? (Basically, the Pottsville team won the NFL title in 1925, the league stole the title from them for breaking a territory rule that NFL historians now admit never actually existed. The runner-up team, the Chicago Cardinals, claimed the title and, since the Cards have struggled so much in the last, oh, 83 years, the Bidwill Family has refused to give the title back or even share it with the rightful owners, the Pottsville Maroons. Because of this, the town placed a Curse on your team. One that seems to have worked quite well.) You're in a very unique position to comment on this because of your loyalty and your location: but where do you stand on this issue of the 1925 NFL title?
ROB: I'm very familiar with the story of the Pottsville Maroons, and although it is nice to say the Cardinals were the NFL Champions in 1925, that title doesn't belong to the Cardinals' franchise. It should be given back to the Pottsville Maroons, and they should then serve Yuengling Lager (oldest brewery in North America and a very tasty beverage-brewed in Pottsville) at University of Phoenix Stadium for the rest of time as a reminder that we righted this wrong.
FLEM: Refreshing. And by that I mean both Yuengling and your support of the Maroons.
ROB: The Bidwill family should have returned the title long ago. And maybe if they had, there would be more than nine Cardinals fans to cheer our franchise to Super Bowl glory.
FLEM: Predict the rest of the Cardinals season for me but do it in two parts: Best-Case Scenario and Worst-Case Scenario.
ROB: Best case scenario: The Cardinals win against the Giants next week to boost their confidence to the point where they run the table the rest of the season to finish 13-3, gaining a first round bye, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They then win two playoff games at home to make it to the Super Bowl. At the Super Bowl, watching from the 50-yard line, I see them come from behind and win the game on a last minute TD pass From Warner to Boldin or Fitzgerald. Warner wins the MVP, cementing his Hall of Fame resume and I am able to attend the postgame party and meet the team that overcame an 83-year-old curse to win the franchise's first NFL title in 61 years.
FLEM: Wait, what about the parade?
ROB: Yes, I fly to Phoenix to watch the parade at street level, and celebrate by spraying Yuengling Lager all over the other eight Cardinals fans present. At the parade the Bidwill Family does the honorable thing and offers the Pottsville Maroons the 1925 title. Immediately thousands upon thousands of Phoenix residents convert to Cardinal fandom, and show up to support our team in a sea of Cardinal red.
FLEM: Okay, and, I hate to do this to you, but now the WCS.
ROB: Warner suffers a career ending injury in the 1st quarter against the Giants; the Cardinals lose their last six games to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs because the 49ers win out and finish 8-8, one game ahead of the Cardinals. Since I no longer have reason to watch football now that the Cardinals are out of it, I put away all of my Cardinals gear for the off-season and spend the next eight months waiting for next season.
FLEM: For the 62nd season in a row. I don't know if this helps or not, but I can promise you and the other eight Cardinals fans out there: neither one of those scenarios is going to happen.