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In Tampa, a Week To Go

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Larry Fitzgerald listens to a question during the Cards' first press conference Monday during Super Bowl week in Tampa.

TAMPA, Fla. – The Cardinals arrived on time and in character Monday, as if the latter was really going to be a question.

Most of the Cardinals have never been to a Super Bowl before, and while there was hint of what was to come last week and the week prior to the NFC Championship, it was impossible to replicate an actual Super Bowl week on the

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road.

All the Cards can do is live it while trying to stay staring straight ahead – figuratively speaking, of course – at the ultimate goal, which is to beat the Steelers Sunday.

"I'm not here for the attention," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "I wish this was just a regular week."

Boldin and his teammates mostly seem like they'd rather do without the glare of the spotlight. But quarterback Kurt Warner has long talked about embracing the moment rather than fighting it. Getting irritated with the constant questions or the fans seeking autographs in the hotel lobby won't help, because those things won't go away.

Neither will the rest of the whirlwind of Super Bowl week, like the parties and the places to go.

Warner has an answer for that too, should the Cardinals win a Super Bowl title.

"I hope that's how guys look at it. This is something special and the game is something special. The parties will come and go, but being part of history is something that is special. I hope guys understand that."

The Cardinals that talked Monday didn't seem too worried about the situation. Safety Adrian Wilson was much more blunt than Warner on the subject.

"We've got a curfew," Wilson said. "Nightlife won't be a problem."

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he and his staff can't talk to the team enough about keeping focused and being smart. It's easy to lose track, amidst the hoopla, that a game remains at the end of the journey. It's also easy to forget the sporting world's eyes are on Tampa, and one slip can carry the news cycle.

Defensive end Bertrand Berry conceded it is a concern with the Cardinals, especially after he has been to a couple of Super Bowls – "as a visitor," he admitted – and can see what temptations are out there.

But Berry also said he thought the Cardinals as a team had handled everything well to this point, and many wondered if they could. That means something.

There are a couple of other things in the Cards' favor. They did spend the week in Virginia earlier this season between the Redskins and Jets games, and even then Whisenhunt said it would be preparation for a week at the Super Bowl.

There were some raised eyebrows given to Whisenhunt at the time, but he became a prophet.

"At least we have a basis for that and minimizing the distractions, which is what this week is all about," Whisenhunt said.

The Cards also have Whisenhunt. The players can take their lead from their leader, who has been here before and just won a Super Bowl a few years ago.

During an appearance with safety Adrian Wilson Monday night on the NFL Network, Whisenhunt confidently took on host Rich Eisen – good naturedly, of course – over some of the criticisms Eisen had leveled toward the Cards as the playoffs began.

Perhaps that's the easiest way for the Cardinals to understand what this week is about, as if a Lombardi Trophy isn't enough.

A misstep just lends credence to those who aren't sure the Cardinals belong here in the first place. And even if the Cards aren't familiar with what will happen this week, they know they've earned the right to experience it.


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 1/26/09.

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