An NFL mantra: Thank God for the Cardinals!

Of all the lovable losers professional sports have to offer, the (Chicago, St. Louis, Arizona) Cardinals should be on top of everyone’s list. With an all-time record of 459-665-38 they are easily the worst team in NFL history.

If their 206 games below .500 isn’t pathetic enough, they are also the humble owners of a 2-5 postseason record. In 87 years of existence, that is. Seven playoff games in 87 years.

The franchise has built an unequaled estate of futility and, like the Seattle Seahawks showed Sunday, everyone else benefits.

cardinals.jpgAs a fan, 10 seasons without a trip to the playoffs can get you a little worried about your team. While lining up Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire, Rick Mirer, John Friesz and Warren Moon behind center, the Seahawks’ 10 years of bumbling was interrupted only by an occasional flirtation with mediocrity. It didn’t matter who called the shots, the legendary Chuck Knox, Super Bowl winner Tom Flores or two-time NCAA champion Dennis Erickson, the results were always the same.

In came Mike Holmgren, another Super Bowl champion. Finally. Paydirt.

They were hardly the ’72 Dolphins, but 9-7 and an AFC West crown in Holmgren’s first season made everything feel right as sweet Seattle rain. But a three-year playoff drought and a 22-26 record put Holmgren on the hot seat, and had me contemplating a one-way dive into Puget Sound.

And then … came the NFC West!

Of course, as a typical Seahawk fan and consequent glutton for punishment, I was pissed off to leave the old rivals, the Broncos, Chiefs and especially the Raiders, behind.

What the hell was I thinking? Give me the ‘Niners, give me the Rams, above all else give me those lovable Cardinals. How could anyone hope for more?

I know. It sounds crazy. Lovable? I guess that comes from rooting against them. They make it so rewarding. To most outside the west, they’re really just losers. But that mentality overlooks their endearing qualities.

They might not be as charming as the Cubbies or as popularly inept as the Clippers, but the Cardinals offer the average sports fan much more than heartbreaking collapses and blooper-reel highlights. They give a gift that every fan outside of Arizona can appreciate — round-the-clock irrelevance. Year in and year out, the Cardinals allow fans everywhere to leave the room and turn off the TV knowing someone, somewhere is worse than their team.

The Cardinals’ perpetual insignificance often goes unappreciated. But it’s the one thing they’ve perfected in nine decades, three cities and two divisions. It can be, and should be, appreciated by every sports fan in America. They are an affirmation of the basic thought that runs through the mind of anyone who laces up a pair of shoes for any competition: “I know I’m better than that guy!”

Until they saw the Cardinals twice a year, I never thought the Seahawks would find that guy. Thank God they have.


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