Arizona Cardinal fans are easily inspired by incredible catches, record breaking performances, shut out defensive games, and last minute overtime wins. A 4-0 start this season ignited the “Big Red Fever” and it fueled across the Wild West with fervor. Last Thursday’s loss to the St Louis Rams seemed to bring a brutal desert monsoon that suffocated the enthusiasm as some fans deflected to the myth of the “same ol’ Cardinals”.
It is frustrating to watch a “fan” give up on the entire season from one insufferable loss. Authentic Arizona Cardinal fans recognize that there is no cure for the Big Red Fever, you give into it, seeing Red all year long. For those of you who share my frustration at these fair-feathered fans and for others who wouldn’t know how to recognize it, here are some key symptoms of the Big Red Fever.
Displaying Red Spirit Preseason
Flagstaff is the summer home of the preseason Cardinals and the town warmly welcomes the team by painting the town red. Cardinal flags fly in almost every window, the crowd is a live wardrobe display of team gear, and you may get the impression that the town is exclusive to the team and fans if you drive through on Route 66 between July and August. Thousands of red bird fans escape to cooler temperatures and flock to see the red and white scrimmages, catching their first glimpse of what the season may bring.
Staying Connected Pregame
The Big Red Rage is a weekly gathering at a local sports grill with all the good pregame gossip and it features long time media representatives along with players as special guests. The Birds Blog is a reliable way to get a regular inside scoop on everything from injuries to keys for winning the upcoming game. The Arizona Cardinal team, most players, and the fan-based Birdgang can be followed on Facebook and Twitter, giving fans a way to connect with each other and feel more in touch with the team.
Showing Up Game Day
The weather naturally lends itself to year-round tailgating outside of the University of Phoenix Stadium. Live music, good food, elaborate set ups, and first-rate Red spirit starts early on game day. Westgate City Center surrounds one side of the stadium and is flooded with fans who seek another kind of start to game day. The team mascot Big Red encourages the Red Sea to Rise Up during the game and the stadium has a deafening echo from the cheers. As half time approaches, a crowd is drawn to the Bud Light Red Zone and the Big Red Fever is contagious as fans restore or amplify their excitement from those around them. It would be foolish to leave the stadium before the final seconds tick away, as Cardinal fans know the pattern of down-to-the-wire wins.
The Arizona Cardinals aim to fly high against the Buffalo Bills in Week 6 to a sold-out crowd at home. Only 11 teams that have started the regular season with a 4-0 record have not made it to the playoffs in NFL history. Let that be a statement of hope to all Cardinal fans, fair-feathered or not.