John Smallwood: Stars won't align for Cardinals in NFC Championship Game

Rookie DeSean Jackson has been Eagles' leading receiver.
Rookie DeSean Jackson has been Eagles' leading receiver.
Posted: January 16, 2009

I WOULD START this with "no disrespect to the Arizona Cardinals," but there is no way to respectfully write this.

The Eagles will not lose to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

Enough with all of the breakdowns based on logic, statistics and current status of the teams; there is a larger metaphysical aspect in play.

I know the Arizona Cardinals are a better team than the one the Eagles carved up on Thanksgiving night to begin their wild ride to the NFC Championship Game.

I know that Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, despite being 37 years old, already has a Super Bowl ring, is a possible Hall of Fame candidate and can still light up a defense with his rapid-release arm.

I know about wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, the resurrection of running back Edgerrin James and the sudden emergence of the defense.

I know that with the roof closed at University of Phoenix Stadium and a surge of last-second bandwagon-jumpers after Arizona beat Carolina last week, the Cardinals will actually have a home-crowd advantage - possibly for just the fourth time in their existence in the desert.

I know that, logically, the Eagles could lose to the Arizona Cardinals.

Umm, no they can't.

If this were the regular season or another round of the playoffs, maybe, but the NFC Championship Game - no.

The Philadelphia Eagles cannot lose and allow the Arizona Cardinals to advance to Super Bowl XLIII.

The order of the cosmos won't allow it. I think there's a law written against it somewhere.

I mean, really, wouldn't the city of Glendale, Ariz., sink into the desert if the Cardinals upset the balance of the universe by achieving something that great?

Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl - the thought forces the mind to shut down from the vast expenditure of energy used to comprehend it.

It is the Cardinals, and whether they were representing Racine, Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix or Arizona, this has generally been the most disheveled, mismanaged and lousy franchise in the NFL.

And considering some of the dark eras in Eagles history, it takes a lot from someone in Philadelphia to say that.

Since it was founded as the Morgan Athletic Club on Chicago's South Side in 1898, the Cardinals franchise has the distinction of being the oldest continuously run football franchise in the nation.

The Chicago Cardinals were a charter member of the National Football League.

They beat the Eagles, 28-21, in the 1947 NFL Championship Game, and since then, nothing.

Maybe it was the fact that the '47 Cardinals didn't get a parade in Chicago, or that the franchise didn't give championship rings until 50 years later when they were awarded to surviving members, but for whatever reason, the franchise has been cursed.

The Cardinals' string of 60 years without a championship is the longest in the NFL - that's 13 seasons longer than Eagles fans have suffered.

In 1960, the Cardinals moved from Chicago to St. Louis - where sharing a name and a stadium with one of the great franchises in Major League Baseball probably wasn't such a good idea.

In St. Louis, the Cards made the playoffs in 1974, '75 and '82, losing their first game each time.

After 28 seasons in St. Louis, the Cardinals, to the chagrin of every other owner in the NFL, moved to Phoenix in 1988, forever ruining what was considered the best expansion site for a future franchise.

It took 10 years, five coaches and a name change from Phoenix to Arizona, before the Cardinals had their first winning season in 1998.

That year the Cardinals also won at Dallas in the NFC wild-card round for the franchise's first postseason victory since the 1947 championship game.

Typical of the Cardinals' fortune, the sunshine on their tail feathers was short-lived as eight more losing seasons and three more coaching changes occurred before this season's success.

Since winning that '47 championship, the Cardinals' franchise has had 16 winnings seasons, with this being only the second after 2 decades in Arizona.

So what do we make of this?

Logic says that past performances have no actual bearing on current games as each is something contained within itself.

Something has changed for the Cardinals because after winning just two combined postseason games in their history, Arizona beat the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers to reach this NFC Championship Game.

Still, there is a cosmic balance to things.

The Eagles can't lose because the fabric of reality will not allow the Arizona Cardinals to rip such a huge hole in it by advancing to Super Bowl XLIII.

It's simply not the Cardinals' time.

Their time will come at Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 - that's the year some prophecies say the universe will collapse on itself and the Earth will be sucked into a giant black hole. *

Send e-mail to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

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