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Rookies Make Hospital Visit

First-year Cardinals show a different side at Phoenix Children's Hospital


Rookies (from left) Padric Scott, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Earl Watford, Dan Giordano and Jonathan Cooper help a patient with karaoke during Wednesday's visit to Phoenix Children's Hospital. For a photo gallery, click here.

There's nothing like a Taylor Swift song to help a team bond.

With a group of Cardinals' rookies providing backup, including first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper on the guitar and fourth-round pick Earl Watford on vocals, a young patient at Phoenix Children's Hospital serenaded a group of parents, doctors and volunteers with one of Swift's songs.

Exactly what the rookies had planned for a Wednesday in late May.

"It was very good," Cooper said. "We did her backup, played some instruments, it was a good time."

This year's rookie class has spent more together than with their families since reporting in

early May, but Tuesday was one of the few times they ventured off the field as a group.

It was also one of the first times they saw each other in a non-football capacity, and with the severity of the illnesses awaiting them at the hospital, many players saw a side of their teammates they won't see often.

"We are able to see each other outside of being competitive and being those tough guys," defensive back Tyrann Mathieu said. "We kinda see people break down and kinda really see people show their hearts."

The Cards sent 25 rookies to visit the hospital, with players spending time with patients in oncology, The Child Life Zone and the hospital school.

They took photos, signed autographs, played games, and in the case of Cooper's group, sang. But for the players, seeing the smiles creep across the children's faces was enough to make their day.

"It's definitely heartfelt to see what these kids go through, to see them struggle to get back to going to school and be around their friends," Mathieu said. "Just to see those guys' ambition and their determination to keep fighting through it, that's what's kinda making my day right now."

While bonding on the field helps produce yards and touchdowns, it's the off-the-field activities that will pay off in the long run, tight end D.C. Jefferson said.

But when?

"When we become world champs," Jefferson said. "When we win the championship and play hard every game."

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