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Best Kickoff Luncheon, Period


 Emcee Chris Rose (left) quizzes (from left to right) Antonio Smith, Reggie Wells and Steve Breaston at Thursday's Kickoff Luncheon. For a photo gallery, click here.

Antonio Smith's bulging right bicep can be "supernatural," or so the Cardinals defensive end says.

That was one of the highlights of Thursday's annual Kickoff Luncheon at University of Phoenix Stadium, held the day before the Cards close out the preseason against Denver in the same building.

The event, which included a silent auction, was designed to raise money for Cardinals Charities. But the centerpiece came when emcee Chris Rose – host of Fox Sports Net's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" – put together a faux "Best Damn" segment with Smith, guard Reggie Wells and wide receiver Steve Breaston.

Smith talked about his muscles. Wells talked about getting his degree this offseason. Breaston talked about how his top NFL moment – returning a punt for a touchdown against Pittsburgh – was one of his worst moments, because his basketball-related celebration attempt gave teammates fodder to chide him.

The three then listened to statements about a handful of teammates and tried to determine if they were fact or fiction.

"That was the most fun show I ever did," said Smith, whose success rate at "fact or fiction" was less than stellar. "I really enjoyed it. I had to give (grief) to my boys. I really thought they were facts. Or fiction."

Coach Ken Whisenhunt, who did a brief question-and-answer session with Rose during the program, called the segment with the players "a nice little wrinkle."

"We try to reinvent this event every year," team president Michael Bidwill said.

Ultimately, though, Bidwill was happy with the turnout – about 500 people – and the corresponding boost to Cardinals Charities. The club's charity arm supports programs that improve the quality of life for children, women and minorities in the state of Arizona.

"Each year it's a great opportunity for the fans to interact with the players and the coaches and this year was the same," Bidwill said. "I think there is a lot of enthusiasm, especially after the foundation we laid in '07.

"It's also a great opportunity to raise money for the community."

Whisenhunt said the event does exactly what it is supposed to, which is direct attention to the start of the regular season. The Cardinals play in San Francisco Sept. 7, and even while he was joking around, Smith acknowledged the players want to get a crack at the 49ers.

The Cardinals lost two close games to the 49ers last season.

"We're very anxious, especially for the first game," Smith said. "For most of us, that game is personal. We felt we let two of them go and it shouldn't have ever been that way."

Contact Darren Urban at Posted 8/28/08.

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