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Embracing the Past


Former Cardinal Kwamie Lassiter gets in some last-minute work on his short game before Tuesday's Cardinals Charities golf tournament. For a photo gallery, click here.

The Cardinals had planned their alumni get-together for months, not coincidentally making it the same weekend the St. Louis Rams – the franchise that moved into the Cards' former city – were in town.

The coincidence comes in what can be accomplished in front of the former players' eyes. It turns out the Arizona Cardinals, who last hosted a playoff game in 1947 as the Chicago Cardinals and last won a division in 1975 as the St. Louis Cardinals, can update both those things on the résumé with a win over the Rams.

That fact wasn't lost on Hall of Fame safety Larry Wilson Tuesday, when the alumni gathered for their Cardinals Charities golf tournament (presented by Albertsons) at Whirlwind Golf Course.

"We played in an era where sportswriters allowed you to savor the moments you play," Wilson said. "When we wrap up the division, we'll be able to savor the moment with this club. It will be a fantastic time."

First, though, was the golf tournament. Approximately 40 former players and coaches took part among the 260 golfers, a nice turnout for a charitable function given the economy, said manager of alumni relations Bill Lewis.

Between the now-annual reunion in Arizona and the reunion the team holds every year during its road trip to St. Louis, the franchise has reached out to former players.

"They recognize we want them to be part of the organization," said Lewis, a former Cardinal himself.

One of Lewis' former teammates, running back Johnny Johnson, said local former players had long talked about having such a connection with the club.

"I think it is outstanding what we have going," Johnson said, noting that while he had seen some of his former teammates, it's "not like you do when you come to a function like this."

"This is like old times," Johnson added, "like being in the locker room."

Wilson, who not only played for the team in St. Louis but served in the front office when the team was in Arizona, said it is good the Cards are embracing their former players.

"It's history, and history is one of the important things you can learn from," Wilson said. "When you have guys here, behind the football club, and out talking in the community, it sheds good light on what this club has done.

"I think the Cardinals have made so many strides for making the team better on the field and off the field. I am very appreciative of it, and I sit back and smile when I think about it."

Contact Darren Urban at Posted 12/2/08. Updated 12/3/08.

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