Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cardinal "Curse"

Today is the Super Bowl, marking the end of the NFL season and a major distraction from the fact that there is no baseball being played.

Don't get me wrong, I like football. I get worked up by the Bears and yell at the TV when they do dumb things. But I don't live and die with the Bears. When they handed the Super Bowl to the Colts with a big bow, I was bummed about it for a couple of days. If you have read any of this blog at all, you know that I'm still not over 1984, much less 2003 or any of the other highly disappointing Cubs seasons.

But today is the Super Bowl and I get a break from obsessing over failure and dwelling on heartbreak and curses. Or do I?

The pre-game coverage (which started in 2005) has involved a lot of talk about a curse on the Arizona Cardinals. ESPN provides the details, but essentially, the curse stems back to 1933 when the Cardinals and the Bidwills laid claim to an NFL championship in 1925 that should have belonged to the now-defunct Pottsville Maroons.

The problem with the curse is that the Cardinals won an NFL championship in 1947. That is fourteen years after the curse was placed on the team by Pottsville, and 22 years after the season that is causing all the problems. That's really not a very long streak. Even Phillies fans will laugh about someone complaining that they have not won in 22 years.

So I have to wonder if this is a curse at all or just plain bad management of a football team. It seems to me that a curse should announce itself much more prominently. The Red Sox had Tony Conigliaro, Bucky Dent, and Bill Buckner (among others) contributing to staggering collapses and repeated instances of pulling defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Cubs close-calls and historic collapses are no secret.

But the Cardinals don't really have much of that. No more, it would seem, than any other team that has been in existence for as long as the Cardinals have. I've heard the "Bears are who we thought they were" game used as evidence that there is a curse. Really? That was a blown lead. It happens. It wasn't the playoffs. It did not prevent the Cardinals from making the playoffs.

The Cardinals have just been bad. If they had blown the lead against the Eagles in the NFC Championship game and lost, that would have been good to use as evidence of a curse. But they came right back down the field and took the lead back from the Eagles and won the game. Historically, when they lost playoff games, they lost to superior teams.

The Cubs lost to teams they should not have lost to. If they had gone on to the World Series and lost to the 1984 Detroit Tigers or the 2003 New York Yankees, I would have a harder time making my case about a curse, but they collapsed and lost to teams that, on paper, were not as good.

So I'm having a hard time mustering much sympathy for the scores of Cardinals fans that have been suffering with the team for the past 61 years. Lets face it, the team has been in three cities since the curse supposedly began. How many Chicago Cardinals fans are still following and rooting for a team that keeps moving further away from them? (I know of exactly one.)

I may just be bitter though. Kurt Warner cost me a fantasy football championship. If anyone is cursed around here, it is my fantasy team.


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