For someone like me, who is an Arizona Cardinals season ticket holder, this season has far exceeding any expectations I had for the team heading into September. Not to toot my horn or anything, but after watching the Cardinals dismantle the playoff-caliber Miami Dolphins in the home opener, I said that the Cards will make the playoffs, hardly expecting them to catch lightning in a bottle and make it all the way to Tampa for the Super Bowl. What does any of this have to do with music? Well, Cardinals fans who went to games out in Glendale know as well as I do that there was quite the impressive sampling of music acts at University of Phoenix Stadium this season.
The Cardinals' choices on which bands bring out to Glendale this season ranged from smart (Jordin Sparks) to okay (3 Doors Down) to downright odd (Collective Soul and Daughtry). One thing is certain, if you attended your fair share of games at University of Phoenix Stadium (also known as "The Pink Taco"), you got to see quite an impressive lineup of music acts, or as the announcer in the stadium loves to call them, "recording artists." I got to the home opener on September 14 with a few minutes to spare and was treated to a two-song set by American Idol season 5 flameout Chris Daughtry and his band. They let him stick around and sing the National Anthem, which he promptly screwed up, much to my delight (not because I hate America, but because I loathe Daughtry).
Hosting a playoff game is a great way to reward the fans that made the trek out to Glendale to support the Cardinals throughout their historic season. A home playoff game, even the thought of one, never really existed while the Cardinals toiled away in that concrete and aluminum shithole we like to call Sun Devil Stadium. Once the Cardinals had the opening Wildcard game locked up, 3 Doors Down was chosen to entertain the fans, a pretty average choice. As the Cardinals went to Charlotte and absolutely dismantled the Panthers and Eli Manning proved he could not throw a football in 10 mile an hour winds, Glendale somehow wound up with the NFC Championship. This was the Cardinals' chance to book some big name acts to bring in and reward the fans for all their support. They nailed the first part of that idea, having Arizona native Jordin Sparks sing the national anthem, thus signaling the second time football fans in Glendale got to watch an American Idol contestant perform. Something tells me the majority of Cardinals fans don't watch American Idol, but I could be wrong about that. Once halftime rolled around, "platinum recording artist" Collective Soul was trotted out on the field to perform. This one left me scratching my head - because I don't see why Collective Soul was booked to play such an important game like the NFC Championship and because I didn't know they were still making music. After playing a new song no one gave a shit about, the launched into their #1 smash hit "Shine," from 1993's Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid. Unfortunately it was this song and not this totally awesome song, also with "shine" in the title. At one point during their performance my friend Melissa turned to me and remarked that lead singer Ed Roland looked pretty rough, his face a bit bloated after all those years on the road. So there we were, watching them play in the middle of the field while the majority of fans went to use the restroom or fill up on more Coors Light.
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Those lucky Cardnials fans who get to make the trek out to Tampa to attend the Super Bowl (myself NOT included) will be rewarded with both Jennifer Hudson singing the national anthem and Bruce Springsteen playing halftime - a controversial choice, but a choice much better than Collective Soul. The run of music that a Cardinals fan has witnessed this season is nothing short of impressive, and they have the NFL to thank for their enthusiasm regarding music and football. However, Cardinals fans now find themselves in an odd situation: having to wait a week to watch their team play in the Super Bowl. I, for one, am a bit miffed that they aren't playing this Sunday. It's oddly pathetic - here's a franchise that hasn't had the slightest whiff of anything Super Bowl-related, yet I sit here fuming because I have to wait an extra week to watch them play. I know the players could use the extra rest, but they are playing some inspired football right now and I'd like to see their red-hot momentum keep going this Sunday. I won't get that opportunity, however, since the NFL now feels it necessary to have the Super Bowl take place in February. Oh well, at least the game's not in Detroit or Indianapolis this year.