All the Cardinals are heading there, in fact, after it was announced Wednesday that the Cards will take part in the 2012 Hall of Fame game Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio, to open the NFL preseason schedule. The opponent will be the New Orleans Saints, who have long-time tackle Willie Roaf as part of the Hall’s 2012 induction class. The Cardinals will now have five preseason games instead of four.
“We finished up winning seven of nine and we said we couldn’t wait to get back on the field, so we’re going to have a good chance to do that and be the first ones back out there,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said with a smile.
“We’ve got a lot of young football players who are turning into good players, and this is a great opportunity to see something (in the Hall of Fame) that is very significant to our game. It’s a great experience.”
It will make for a longer training camp. Teams can start camp up to 15 days before their first preseason game, but Whisenhunt said the Cards won’t go to Flagstaff that early (which would be July 21.) Whisenhunt wants to study it more in-depth, but guessed it would be 10 or 11 days earlier.
“It’ll be more about installation and what it will take for us to get prepared for the game,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ll back it up from that point.”
The extra time, however, makes sense for a team trying to get as much offseason work in for quarterbacks
“After a year of not having an offseason, extra time will be good for us,” Whisenhunt said. “That, combined with the number of young players we have getting more time, it’s a good thing, especially when you are talking about live situations with another team.”
The game will be televised on the NFL Network. Kickoff will be 5 p.m. Arizona time. Whisenhunt said he hasn’t figured out the scheduling of the road trip itself, but he said he would make sure there was enough time built in for his players to spend time to see the Hall of Fame.
The Cards are the NFL team that has gone the longest without playing in the Hall of Fame game. The Cardinals last played in Canton in 1986, when the team, still based in St. Louis, lost to the Patriots, 21-16.
The Cardinals had two other appearances in the Hall of Fame game, which was first played in 1962 – coincidentally, a game in which the Cards were in. That year, the Cards tied the New York Giants, 21-21. The Cardinals beat the Buffalo Bills, 21-13, in 1974.
Whisenhunt played in two Hall of Fame games and coached in a third, and said it does have a little different feel than a normal preseason game.
“It’s the only game and a lot of attention because of the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies going on,” Whisenhunt said. “From that standpoint, there is more pageantry. But if you care at all about the history of the game, it’s a great game to be a part of.”
Tickets for the game will go on sale March 13. More information on both the Hall of Fame game and the 2012 Enshrinement Ceremony -- including Enshrinement Festival fan packages -- can be found on Profootballhof.com.
The remaining schedule and opponents for the other four preseason games, as well as the regular-season schedule, will be announced in April.
The Cardinals already know their regular-season opponents: Home against the Rams, Seahawks, 49ers, Bills, Bears, Lions, Dolphins and Eagles, and road games against the Rams, Seahawks, 49ers, Falcons, Packers, Vikings, Patriots and Jets.