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Luncheon Kicks Off Cardinals' Season

Annual event held at University of Phoenix Stadium


Receiver Larry Fitzgerald (right) tells his elephant story Wednesday at the Kickoff Luncheon while teammates Patrick Peterson (left) and Sam Acho (center) listen and laugh.

The question had nothing to do with football.

But the answer left the crowd in hysterics.

Ron Wolfley, who co-hosted Wednesday's Cardinals Kickoff Luncheon with fellow broadcast partner Dave Pasch, leaned forward and asked Larry Fitzgerald if he had, in fact, really bought an elephant during the offseason. Fitzgerald had, and the Cardinals' Pro Bowl wide receiver, who earned the loudest cheers from the crowd, talked about riding the elephant which he purchased in Asia. His left foot, he told the crowd, made the elephant go right and vice versa.

It was the type of story about 350 fans and supporters came to hear.

The Cardinals were spread out among the 42 tables set up inside University of Phoenix Stadium. They dined on salad, short ribs and strawberry shortcake while the fans and players discussed football and business, among other topics.

"It's good to get out here with the fans and interact with them and see how excited they are for the season just like we are," tight end Todd Heap said.

Team president Michael Bidwill kicked off the speeches by announcing that Thursday will be the Cardinals' 65th consecutive sellout in University of Phoenix Stadium. He also praised his organization for giving back.

"It's important to do things for the community," Bidwill said.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt followed and talked about how his team persevered through last season, finishing 7-2. He also said the team's goal is raise another banner to the University of Phoenix rafters.

Then it was on to the players.

First cornerback Patrick Peterson talked about his goal of returning five punts for touchdowns, one more than he had in 2011. Then linebacker Sam Acho discussed adjusting to playing in the NFL during his rookie season and how his second year will be an improvement.

The last player called up on stage was Fitzgerald, who at one point had a line of fans eagerly waiting for his autograph that stretched through a handful of tables.

Fans had the chance to bid on autographs from Ryan Williams, Darnell Docket, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Adrian Wilson, Peterson and Fitzgerald, as well as purchase historical autographed merchandise.

While the fans got to know the players on a personal level, Acho had one question for everyone at his table.

"Who's on their fantasy team?" Acho said with a smile. "Are they getting the Cards defense?"

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