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Kicking Off Season With The Fans

Cardinals take part in annual luncheon at University of Phoenix Stadium


Defensive end Calais Campbell signs at autograph at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

By time Sister Martha finished the invocation during the Cardinals' 16th annual Kickoff Luncheon on Wednesday, the players were ready to run into the locker room at University of Phoenix Stadium and strap on their pads.

And the fans were itching to get a little rowdy.

The Cards' yearly event to introduce the roster and coaching staff had more of a buzz this season with new head coach Bruce Arians joking with Sister Martha and a steady ovation for a mostly new roster. The lunch also gave fans a chance to get know the new faces on a one-on-one basis. Every table had at least one player, and some had as many as four.

"It's always good to get to know those people and network a little bit," linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. "I also get to meet some of the fans that are coming around and signing some of the autographs for the kids.

"A lot of people just want to know how we are as men off the field, about our families, our kids, where they're going to school, (asking) have you been in this area? Just different things like that you don't get to see on Sundays."

Cardinals President Michael Bidwill addressed the crowd of about 500. Then Dave Pasch and Ron Wolfley, who make up the Cardinals' broadcast team, hosted the event. Arians spoke about making "the big dance," meaning the postseason and bringing a playoff game to University of Phoenix Stadium.

Then Pasch and Wolfley held short interviews with quarterback Carson Palmer, linebacker Karlos Dansby and Alexander, who brought Wolfley a Bavarian cream puff that was served for dessert.

Dansby said he talked about rejoining the Cards, who selected him in the second round of the 2004 draft, with Darnell Dockett this summer while Dockett vacationed in Miami.

Wide receiver Michael Floyd said his table didn't ask any crazy questions.

"A lot people (support) us in a great way through the good and the bad," Floyd said. "So I think our team is excited. I'm excited for this new, upcoming year."

The money raised through the kickoff luncheon, through tickets, merchandise and a silent auction, was donated to Cardinals Charities.

Alexander, who was at his first luncheon, relished in meeting new fans.

"Any time you have this big platform and you have a good viewing as far as people seeing you, whether it's the media, social networking and you're able to use that celebrity to come together raise some money and give back to the community, that's great," he said. "Because we've all been blessed and helped along the way.

"For us to be able to return that favor I think it's something we're obligated to do."

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