Bertrand Berry (right) takes the NFC Championship trophy from team owner Bill Bidwill after the Cards clinched a Super Bowl berth.
When Bertrand Berry began hosting his radio show – "The Big Red Rage" – in 2005, the veteran defensive end figures there were "like, six people" at the first show.
During a special two-hour show Thursday night, held outside Majerle's Sports Grill in Chandler, there were about 400 people as part of the parking lot was used for the overflow.
"It was insane," Berry said. "There were people checking IDs and security, and I was like, 'Wow, do you really need someone to check ID to listen to someone on the radio?' "
The increased attention just showed Berry how far the franchise had come since he arrived as a free agent in 2004.
"For me, I saw this as a great opportunity," Berry said. "I thought if we could get to this point right now, they'd remember us forever."
It wasn't always certain Berry would get to this point. He made the Pro Bowl in
2004, but the next three seasons all ended about halfway through with season-ending injuries. Just to come back this season, Berry had to agree to a significant salary reduction and a loss of his starting job.
But Berry ended up leading the team in sacks and played more than oft-injured starter Travis LaBoy. Now Berry is enjoying how far the team has come since those once dark days.
"Anybody can plug into an established program and win a Super Bowl ring and everything is fine," Berry said. "I wanted to do something that people would talk about for years and years and years. Now we are in a position where we can get people to talk about us."
The improvement of Larry Fitzgerald over the years has been a gradual process. He talked Friday about his grandfather, an optometrist, doing different drills with him to improve his hand-eye coordination. He talked about his offseason work habits, which included improving his run-after-catch statistics. He said just getting older and learning the NFL game helped.
But the seeds of Fitzgerald, excellent pass catcher, may have come when he was a ballboy with the Minnesota Vikings as a teenager. At least, that's how former Vikings Pro Bowl receiver Cris Carter – on hand at practice Friday doing work for ESPN – sees it.
Fitzgerald was the wide receivers ballboy during training camp and always having to catch the ball.
"Every drill we do, we're throwing him the ball, and we're trying to throw the ball over the place," Carter said. "In training camp, if he missed the ball, it allowed the line (of receivers in the drill) to stop. Then the guys get a little more of a breather, because the coach only has two balls – he's throwing one, and Larry has the other.
"So if Larry misses … trust me, we were throwing the ball all over the place. Trust me, it didn't take us long to know that kid could catch."
Running back J.J. Arrington, who said he hurt his knee near the end of the first half in the NFC Championship, sat out practice again Friday. With teams required to turn in a final injury report for the week Friday, Arrington is officially questionable right now, although the team still will practice Saturday and again next week.
Defensive end Antonio Smith (knee), LaBoy (biceps) and punter Ben Graham were all limited and are also listed as questionable. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin remains on the injury report with a hamstring issue, but he seems to be past the problem, practiced full once again and is probable for the Super Bowl.
The only two Steelers who are questionable for the Super Bowl are wide receiver Hines Ward (knee) and linebacker Patrick Bailey (hamstring).
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 1/23/09.
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