My Love Hate Relationship for the NFC West


It was a cold day on February 1, 2009, well below freezing in the Seattle area.  Inside we were warm with a fire and the body heat of our closest friends watching the Super Bowl and cheering on the Arizona Cardinals against the hated Pittsburgh Stealers. (Not a typo, that’s how we spell their team name).

We cheered with glee when Kurt Warner threw the game winning touchdown pass to Fitz, only to be kicked in the gut when the hated team scored the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute left.

The Cardinals lost that day, but why was I cheering for them?  The reasons were…

  • I love Kurt Warner’s comeback story
  • The Cardinals had been the underdog for a long time
  • They represented the NFC West

A few years later in 2012, the San Francisco 49ers played the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.  The same group of close friends were cheering for the Ravens and scoffing at the poor play of starter Colin Kaepernick.

So why did I cheer for the Cardinals, yet despise the 49ers?  It started with the Christmas Eve game in 2011.  Alex Smith was playing his controlled ball style and the Seahawks were led by Tavaris Jackson and had lost a bunch of close games.  It was the year after Beast Quake, and at 7-7 we still had a shot to win out and make the playoffs.

It was a back and forth game, but I started to notice what a cry baby Jim Harbaugh was.  This was the guy that I rooted for when he played for the Colts?  This was Captain Comeback?  “What a dweeb”, I thought to myself.

Then, the next morning I heard on sports talk radio that the 49er assistant coaches broke an unwritten rule of professionalism in the press box.  They were laughing and wishing the Seahawk press a sarcastic Merry Christmas.  You can read about the game here:

49ers end Seahawks’ late-season run, move closer to 1st-round bye

I lost a ton of respect for our closest NFC West team. Their prestige was gone in my mind.  They were just a bunch of punks.  Can’t root for punks in a Super Bowl.

As far as passionately hating another team in the NFC West, San Francisco was it…until now that is.

Enter Bruce Arians with the Arizona Cardinals.  Bruce came from the Colts and joined the Cardinals last year. Yeah, a feel good story for the Colts but I didn’t know too much about this coach.  Last year the Cardinals came into Clink and beat us.  We actually beat them in every stat category but one:  The final score.  Anyway, Bruce Arians, we are finding out, is a classless.

I get it.  That’s his style.  He’s the “new” sheriff in town and everyone else should fear him.  He makes fun of who he wants to make fun of and for all the Pete Carroll haters out there, Pete does none of the Harbaugh or Arians crap.

I’ve run sports leagues for more than 15 years and I can pick out the type of players that will win at any cost.  They will do anything.  They will walk the sidelines with an open rule book to twist and manipulate the rules to their favor.  As an official, if I turn my back, they will cheat.  This is the type of person Bruce Arians is.  Last game versus the Rams, Coach Bruce tossed his challenge flag under 2 minutes.  When he realized he made a mistake you could see that he was motioning to his player to pick it up.  He told the ref when asked about it that the flag just fell out of his hands.  He didn’t throw it.

Yeah right.  Nice move coach.

In the post game Bruce made comments like

“I love it when nobody says that you will have a chance to win,” Arians said. “There is an 11-3 team, and a team that is always 8-8. You figure it out.”

“Everybody wanted to say how great their defense is, but I think they saw a good defense tonight and it was in red and white,” Arians said. “I am very proud of our guys.”

Reading them you may think to yourself, these aren’t that bad Troy, what’s the big deal?  It’s the way he said them.  His smug seething tone, like a kid that had his candy taken away and is pouting.  You won that game Coach Bruce.  Show some class.  Even Jim Harbaugh wouldn’t stoop to this level.

Bottom line if the Cardinals ever make the Super Bowl again with Coach Bruce at the helm, I will be cheering as much as I can against them.  There’s a new villain in town and they wear red and white.

Game on.


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