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Charity Dinner Bowled Over

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Matt Leinart and Antonio Smith decide whether to bid on an auction item at Thursday night's Kingpin Challenge at Kyrene Lanes. 

Outside, smoke and lights greeted both the players and fans who arrived to take part in the "Kingpin Challenge" Thursday night at Chandler's Kyrene Lanes.

Inside, it was the rousing voices of fullbacks both past (Ron Wolfley) and present (Terrelle Smith).

Bowling was the backdrop for the annual Cardinals Charities fall event. With Wolfley and Smith serving as co-masters of ceremony, the bowling alley was transformed into a silent auction house, a restaurant and most importantly, a cauldron of high-stakes bowling competition.

OK, maybe not so high-stakes.

"You are seeing athletes be athletes and you are seeing other athletes who can't bowl at all," team president Michael Bidwill said with a grin. "You see guys in the front office who can't bowl at all, including me. But we are having fun." The past few years the team's charity dinner was just that, an upscale sit-down,

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formal affair. The choice was made this season to dial back the formality, a concept that was embraced by the players.

"I think this is a nice change-up," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "You don't have to get all dressed up, be uptight, put on your table manners. Come out, bowl a little bit, enjoy the fans and your teammates, eat a little. It's a nice relaxing atmosphere."

Plus, noted coach Ken Whisenhunt, "The first thing I got was this spiffy bowling shirt. At least I am dressed the part."

Whisenhunt, who each offseason has taken the team to Kyrene Lanes for a bowling day in lieu of an organized team workout, liked the idea of players and fans being put into competing teams.

"It's a little easier to interact (with fans), and it's in a team concept, and you know I like that," Whisenhunt said.

The crowd was entertained by Wolfley and especially Smith, who made sure to move around and involve his teammates in his banter.

"I came in the door and kind of got the party started," Smith said.

The team featuring guard Reggie Wells – who just happens to be an avid bowler with all his own equipment – won first place. Wells teamed with Greg Lieberg, Scott McClellan, Eric Frei and Vic Libow.

Second place went to center Lyle Sendlein's team, which also had Tim Bidwill, Chip Halquist, Dave Wiltberger and John Jenkins. Matt Leinart's team – Pat Howard, Emilie Rameriz, Topher Hernandez and Jason Allison – came in third.

The silent auction, which had items like a signed copy of Tony Dungy's bestselling book and autographed uniforms of Adrian Wilson, Edgerrin James and Emmitt Smith, also helped to raise funds.

Cardinals Charities supports programs designed to improve the quality of life and enhance opportunities for children, women, and minorities in the state of Arizona.

"When you can think how we can truly interact instead of sitting at tables with a suit and tie on," defensive end Bertrand Berry said, "this is a great way to incorporate the fans with us."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 10/31/08.

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