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Super Week Makes Cards Think

Posted Feb 2, 2012

For players who have been there, watching can be difficult

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald warms up for practice during Super Bowl week before the Cards played Pittsburgh in early 2009.

A year ago, Daryn Colledge was preparing for the Super Bowl.

Now, the guard is on a different team, rehabbing from elbow surgery, and can’t help but reminisce.

“You think about what it was it was like going through media day and training for that extra week and spending the week,” said Colledge, who left the Packers as a free agent to sign with the Cardinals last offseason. “You remember what it was like going through it with your guys.

“I have positive thoughts about it all because I won. It’s probably different than guys who did not win.”

The week leading up to a Super Bowl is always a different one for players not in the game. It’s impossible to not pay attention, really, and for guys who have never had a chance to be in a game it’s not an overwhelmingly unusual time.

Defensive back Richard Marshall, as he does much of the time when he is watching games, can’t help but study other players and their techniques. But he’s a football fan, like running back Beanie Wells, and watching the Super Bowl is what football fans do on Super Sunday.

There are moments of mental replay – the Cardinals did nearly (and probably should have) beaten the Giants this season – but there is a respect.

“You always play those games but at the end of the day, they got the job done,” said Marshall, who started his career with the Panthers two seasons after Carolina appeared in the Super Bowl.

Wells said he is rooting for the Giants in part because they are from the NFC but mostly for his former teammate at Ohio State, tight end Jake Ballard.

The hard part, Wells said, is thinking back over the mistakes the team made during the season to cost it a playoff chance. Without the playoffs, there is no opportunity to even think about this week.

But tasting it once before definitely impacts Super Bowl week for players, whether it be a guy like Colledge – who earned a ring when the Packers beat the Steelers last year – or the players on teams that couldn’t close the deal, which still includes some of the Cards from that memorable 2008 season.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said the Cards’ Super loss “is something that comes across my mind all the time,” not just this week. Defensive end Calais Campbell simply admitted he was envious of the teams this week, and not just playing the game.

The buildup, while hard, also puts both teams in a two-week spotlight that for players often searching for credit gives it to all.

“Those guys are living the dream,” Campbell said. “(Super Bowl) week is unbelievable. After the years where we don’t even make the playoffs, it’s a big difference. The atmosphere, the locker room, the fans, your family, the media, the coaches, the front office, everyone is so much more intense but happy. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Campbell didn’t even get a chance to be an NFL player without Super knowledge. He was a rookie when the Cards made it. Colledge at least was in the league a few seasons before reaching the game. Every player wants to be in the game, Colledge said. But having been there before, “you want it even more.”

“That’s what pushes you, makes you want to be a better player and have your team be a better team because you want your team to get there again,” Colledge said.

“Once you have a taste of it, it’s so different. To have the confetti drop and to get your ring, to hoist the trophy, that’s extremely special and not a lot of guys have that opportunity. I can’t wait for the opportunity to do it again.”

Such a chance is not guaranteed, of course.

Campbell said he’ll watch the Super Bowl with friends, he’ll have some chips and guacamole. But it’s not quite as fun as it once was.

“After getting there and knowing what it is like, I’m so jealous,” Campbell said. “I want to be there so bad. It’s more motivation to train hard. It is easier to work hard now, thinking about that.”

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