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More Than Football

Posted Dec 7, 2010

"Teddy Bear Express" outing puts season in perspective

Nose tackle Dan Williams makes a friend at St. Joseph's Hospital Tuesday during the "Teddy Bear Express." For a full photo gallery, click here.


The losing streak hasn’t felt good for any of the Cardinals, and it’s not like it goes away on the players’ Tuesday off day.

So heading over to take part in the Cards’ annual “Teddy Bear Express” Tuesday at St. Joseph’s Hospital was a welcome distraction. The Cardinals aren’t winning, who plays quarterback is in question, and yet – for a couple of hours anyway – it didn’t matter.

“Things are tough right now at work but we believe we will be able to work through it and we have to move forward,” fullback Reagan Maui’a said. “But coming here, you kind of forget about football for a little bit, give somebody else a day.”

The group included Maui’a, quarterback John Skelton, guard Rex Hadnot, nose tackle Dan Williams and kicker Jay Feely, along with coach Ken Whisenhunt’s wife Alice, the mascot Big Red and a couple of Cardinals cheerleaders.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of days particularly for Skelton, who went from third-string quarterback early Sunday to probable starter for this week’s game against Denver. With veteran Derek Anderson dealing with a concussion – he has not yet passed the tests to allow him to practice – and rookie Max Hall going to injured reserve Tuesday, Skelton is left to hold off newly signed Richard Bartel to get his first NFL start.

That wasn’t at the forefront of Skelton’s mind once he started going from hospital room to hospital room, passing out white teddy bears with a mini-jersey sporting “Skelton 19” on the back.

“No matter how much you are struggling on the football field … to be able to give back like this, it always brings you back to earth,” Skelton said.

Feely, a 10-year NFL veteran, as long taken part in such charitable events and has dealt with his share of struggles in the league in terms of wins and losses.

“There are always things more important than football,” Feely said. “As much as we care about it and with everything we put into it, there is greater meaning in life than what happens on the football field.”

Said Hadnot, “Anytime you can create a smile on somebody’s face, it’s something you should enjoy.”

Even if the players were thinking football – and they still were encountering parents who root for the team, and one brother of a sick little girl who was sporting a Kurt Warner jersey – it made the difficulty of the season fade just a bit.

“It picks up your spirits and it reminds you that they are still fans and makes you want to keep fighting on the field,” Williams said. “Fans who root for the Cardinals regardless. It makes you want to push yourself more.”
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