Former Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer launches a pass back in 2001.
Jake Plummer had been a star just a few miles away, quarterbacking the Arizona State Sun Devils to a near-undefeated season and almost a national championship when he was a senior.
When he was drafted by the Cardinals in 1997, it seemed a natural. Plummer acknowledges it wasn't what he was looking for at first, although in the end, there were big benefits.
"I don't think it hurt," Plummer said. "It was a nice transition. Personally I was ready to go somewhere else, because I had been in the Valley and liked it, but I was up for more adventure, a different city.
"But the way it worked out it was nice. I was afforded some rather conspicuous games, not the greatest play of my life but
I remained the starter because I the fans loved me, they rooted for me and they wanted me to do well."
Plummer's six years with the Cardinals is seemingly seen through a haze these many years later. His final season was 2002, before he went on to play for the Denver Broncos and long before the Cardinals moved into University of Phoenix Stadium or made their Super Bowl appearance.
Plummer abruptly retired from the game in 2007, admittedly burned out on not only playing but the rest of what life in the NFL encompasses. That included dealing with the media, not always Plummer's favorite chore.
That's changed. Even Plummer, 39, chuckles when he notes he is now an analyst for the Pac-12 Network and has a podcast – called "Snake's Takes" – done through Sports USA Media.
"Through the whole process of playing, it didn't get necessarily old but you wanted a break," Plummer said. "I didn't want
to watch sports, talk sports. I realize it's not just me who goes through it, a healing process, a time when you have to get away from the game and find out where you want to go in life.
"I said I'd never do any TV and then I started doing the Pac-12 network stuff so I stopped saying never."
It's been more than a decade since Plummer last played for the Cardinals. He left as a free agent after the 2002 season when he and the team were ready to move in a different direction. Even now, Plummer remains disappointed with front-office decisions after the 1998 playoff season – "We got rid of Larry Centers and got Joel Mackovicka" – and sees the major ups and downs he traveled with the team.
"I think they should celebrate that '98 season and those players, making the playoffs," Plummer said. "There would be no stadium right now, I don't think, without that season. Who knows if they would even be in the Valley?"
Plummer said he'd embrace reconnecting with the franchise and he has talked with former teammate and current Alumni Programs manager Damien Anderson. Plummer also visited the team's Tempe facility last year to talk with owner Bill Bidwill, president Michael Bidwill and the longtime trainers and equipment men who remained from Plummer's playing days.
"I had fun playing for the Cardinals," Plummer said. "There were also some really tough years. There was a coaching change when Vince (Tobin) got fired. It was hard. It was definitely hard. I put a lot of heart and soul and effort into my time there and it was hard because we didn't win consistently. Those four years after '98 were rough and I think everyone involved in that knew it was rough."