Kurt Warner celebrates a big finish Thursday during the Cardinals' intrasquad bowling tournament in Chandler.
Ken Whisenhunt wasn't bowling.
The key word there is
That's the catch when, for a second straight year, the Cardinals coach called off the final organized team activity of week three to take his team bowling. The winning foursome earned the right not to run "gassers" – post-practice sprints -- next week.
"I don't want to accused of any impropriety," Whisenhunt said with a smile. "If I happened to bowl and my team happened to win, boy, there would probably be an uprising."
Opting out of gassers was a tempting prize, but Whisenhunt's ultimate goal for the Thursday outing was to promote team unity in an outlet other than on the football field.
It didn't hurt to have a day off from the field, either.
"It builds chemistry and camaraderie, these little events like this, it's a way to hang out and get to know each other better," quarterback Matt Leinart said. "It is good to do things like this. We're in meetings all day, every day, football, football, football. Now it's just hanging out, and you become better friends."
The quality of bowling was varied. Guard Reggie Wells and kicker Neil Rackers came prepared with their own bowling balls; others looked like they had never seen a bowling ball. But that didn't stop the constant trash-talking between groups as play developed.
"Anything we compete in, whether it is Chinese checkers or whatever, there is going to be trash-talking," Wells said. "Everybody here thinks they can do everything good."
Added Leinart with a smile, "It's all we do is compete and try and one up the other person, no matter what position you play, no matter who you are. It's our nature."
While the official results (the total score from two games for each foursome) and the get-out-of-gassers-free card won't be announced until Monday's practice, one team had a hot streak as the event went on. Most teams were gunning for combined scores of anywhere between 550 and 580, but the quartet of linebackers Matt Stewart and Ali Highsmith, receiver Steve Breaston and quarterback Kurt Warner caught fire, rolling a 658 in their second game.
Stewart said the four had to overcome issues in the first game, when he lost a strike and spare and Highsmith lost two strikes following a reset after a lane mixup.
The four were careful not to claim victory, and Stewart insisted they didn't trash-talk. But, Stewart said, if his team does end up winning, the group "might be (doing) some cheering for the guys that have to run."
That would be exactly what Whisenhunt is looking for – a carryover into next week and beyond.
"You see a lot of laughing, guys giving each other (high) five," Whisenhunt said, "and that goes a long way when you sitting there in the fourth quarter and you know you have to count on your teammate."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 6/5/08.