After their own trip to the Super Bowl, this week -- especially with the Steelers involved -- has been difficult to watch.
Earlier in the week, Calais Campbell tweeted out he couldn't even watch SportsCenter, because seeing the Steelers and Packers begin Super Bowl preparation was difficult.
"I'm too jealous," the Cardinals' defensive end wrote, although just a couple of days later, he was in Arlington/Fort Worth, taking part in some Super Bowl festivities.
Not that being there makes it easier.
"As a player (not playing), you get to go to so many events, parties, media stuff and hang out at appearances and get paid a little bit," Campbell said by phone from Texas. "But when you are in the game, the party is for you.
"They kind of treat you like royalty. There is no better feeling than that, right?"
It's a feeling the Cardinals are missing this time of year. Two years ago, they were part of it all. Last year – perhaps because they had been in the playoffs and had a good season themselves, and we still recovering from the year – the absence didn't seem as great.
After notching just five wins this season, however, the ache is clear. It doesn't help the Steelers -- the Cards' opponent in their Super trip – have returned without them.
Wide receiver Steve Breaston admittedly has avoided TV himself. With the Steelers in the game, there are two highlights that pop up, neither of which sit well with a Cardinal who was in Tampa that night.
"Every time they show (James) Harrison run in the end zone, (then) they show (Santonio) Holmes' catch so I have yet to even turn on SportsCenter," Breaston said. "I can't.
"The experience I had going to the Super Bowl was great, and playing in that game and being on that stage was so much fun. But when you lose a game like that, knowing how hard you worked through that whole year, where people said you weren't going to be there, it's also a big letdown. Losing it, as a competitor, it hurt a lot. Now it's like, you always want to get back to that point."
Linebacker Clark Haggans felt the pain of the Super loss even though he was on injured reserve. But he has mixed feelings, having played the bulk of his career with the Steelers and figuring he still knows half the team.
Haggans, standing inside a quiet and empty locker room at the Cards' Tempe complex after a workout this week, mulled the more important part of this weekend for himself – that the Cards didn't even give themselves a chance to earn a way to Dallas.
"You see other teams in the playoffs and you get salty, thinking, 'Oh, we should've beaten them. We should have been there.' Shouda, coulda, woulda, you had your chance," Haggans said. "If you did, you did. That means you got your opportunity. If you didn't, you are sitting at home. It's unfortunate, but that's what makes it the greatest game of the year because it's so hard to get to."
Seeing the teams arrive, take part in media obligations, have every move covered all week – those are things that are easy to relate to for the Cardinals. They remember living through those things.
Haggans called the Super Bowl "everything you thought of in your head and more … and then a little more on top of that."
It's hard not to miss that feeling right now.
"There is nothing else," Breaston said. "You are never content with making the playoffs or getting a certain record. It's a letdown if you don't get back to the Super Bowl, and that's tough. That's real tough. You are going to beat yourself alive if you have those expectations. But that's personally my expectation. Getting there and hopefully winning one."
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