The second season of Folktales continues this week, with "Miracle In The Desert" premiering on the Arizona Cardinals YouTube channel Wednesday at 8 a.m.
The chemistry, as much as a quarterback and wide receiver could create on the scout team with limited practice reps, was built on the basketball court.
Whenever they had the chance, Josh McCown and Nate Poole would head over to the Lifetime Fitness, make sure they were on the same team, and ball.
"It's going to sound bad coming from an NFL receiver," said Poole, the one-time Cardinals wide receiver, "but we played basketball probably more than we went out on the field and threw the football."
Because of the basketball, McCown said, "I felt like there was a connection for us."
Now, was that particular part of their history actually going through McCown's mind as the seconds ticked down in the 2003 season and the Cardinals quarterback scrambled to the right with one final attempt to beat the Vikings?
But that connection meant something as McCown let the ball go from 28 yards away, a dart that found Poole inbounds just enough for an improbable touchdown that knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs, knocked the Cardinals out of the No. 1 overall draft pick, and provided an emotional swan song for soon-to-be-fired coach Dave McGinnis. It also cleared the way for the Cardinals to draft Larry Fitzgerald.
"You would have thought we won the Super Bowl," McCown said. "It was an unbelievable moment."
Every team has a Nate Poole. They have more than one.
Poole, who had played at Marshall with another wide receiver named Randy Moss, originally signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie in 2001. Over the next couple of years, he spent time on the practice squad and roster, always on the cusp of being cut.
"Every year I was with the Cardinals it was getting to training camp and you bust your butt trying to make the team," Poole said.
He had only 13 catches in 2002, and in 2003, the Cardinals added first-round pick Bryant Johnson and second-round pick Anquan Boldin to the roster. Boldin became a breakout star. Poole just kept trying to keep his job.
McCown had been a third-round pick in 2002 playing behind Jake Plummer, and in 2003 he was Jeff Blake's backup. But with Plummer gone, McCown thought there could be a chance he could play – and he did, getting the chance to start the last three games.
"The whole way we approached the year was different," McCown said. "Coming down the stretch I did feel more prepared to play at the end of that season."
That the two would figure into one of the most dramatic moments in Cardinals – and Vikings and Packers – history wouldn't have been guessed.
The Vikings just needed to win to capture their division title, the Packers right behind, and truthfully, that was exactly what was expected to happen. Moss was in his prime. The Minnesota defense had guys like defensive tackle Kevin Williams and former Cardinal Corey Chavous. The Cardinals had limped to the finish line of what had been a 3-12 season.
"People talk about players tanking seasons to get draft picks," said Damien Anderson, a running back on that team. "It's the last thing on their mind. They are thinking about job security."
McGinnis didn't have that. His tenure was coming to an end after the Vikings game, and it wasn't a surprise in the locker room.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals held the second overall draft pick, with the Chargers – who had the No. 1 pick but playing the equally woeful Raiders – needing to win and the Cardinals lose for Arizona to finish with the top pick and a shot at Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning.
The team had Boldin and running back Emmitt Smith had returned to the field after missing most of the year with injury. They had future Ring of Honor member Adrian Wilson in his third season. But not much else.
Not that it mattered to the team or McGinnis.
"That we're going to beat the Minnesota Vikings, realistically, I don't know if that was an easy sell for a coach," McCown said. "But he did a good job of framing that for us."