As you read this article, keep in mind that Saturday was the Cardinal's Fan Day.
This past weekend I went to Cardinal's training camp. For the past few seasons, I've always told myself that I would go to some teams training camp...but as a law student, time and money were LIMITED! So, needless to say, I was VERY excited to finally have an opportunity to experience my first training camp. As a reward for my recent struggles my girlfriend agreed to make the 2.5 hour hike to Flagstaff with me. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, I sat for the Arizona state bar exam and let me tell ya, every person who survives preparing for and actually taking that 12 hour beast deserves a treat. Tragically, my joy and excitement was VERY short lived. My camp experience quickly transformed into a bitter one.
I now understand why this franchise has such a minute fan base. A friend of mine went to Redskin's camp this past weekend...there were nearly 20,000 people in attendance...Card's at max had about 5,000. The "men" who comprise this team are the most disrespectful and downright disgusting individuals. How are they cocky and they've never made it to the playoffs?!
I admit, I am not your average fan nor am I your average NFL blogger. BUT, despite my outward appearance I am (or shall I say used to be) a devote Cardinals fan. My passion, knowledge, and thirst for the game are unparallel. In terms of sheer football knowledge I possess more than the average man. So you shouldn't let my appearance fool you. Funnily enough, a few of the pictures that I took this weekend captured the facial expressions of several players. In the photos that other fans took of me and my girlfriend you can clearly see players smirking and making faces at us in the backdrop. I can only imagine the denigrating or just plain mean remarks that were made. As a woman who's been following this team for several years, who was THRILLED to finally get a chance to see her favorite players up close and personal, this experience was just plain hurtful.
First, Larry Fitzgerald is quite possibly the rudest person alive. I witnessed this "man" make a child cry by refusing to shake the little boy's hand. Every other player took a second to give an occasional high five, thumbs up, or a head nod. Most players proffered some sign of acknowledgement to the children as they shouted their names....but oh no not Larry. He wouldn't even look up. I was appalled! Doesn't he know that if it wasn't for these screaming and adoring kids there would be no mega pay day. The fans make the team so give the fans (at least the children) a simple head nod! Oh and we haven't forgotten the paternity (abortion request) debacle...Larry could use some positive publicity!
Secondly, Antrell Rolle is the personification of disappointment. I went to camp primarily to interview Rolle about his transition from CB to S. It's a move that many have suggested since he first left Miami. Rolle has long been a favorite Card for me. I think he has the potential to be a respectable talent if he gets his confidence back, focuses and puts in the time to learn the new position...after all nothing comes easy in the Not For Long (NFL) league. Additionally, I was curious about the support system that Adrian Wilson is providing Rolle. As one of the league's best (and most underrated safeties) I think he will be a huge reason why Rolle succeeds. And finally, I wanted his take on rookie DRC. As you loyal AZ fans know, drafting DRC was a slight gamble...so after ten days of camp I wanted to know what a Vet, an actual AZ CB (former), thought about DRC's progress. As you can see I was stoked for the opportunity, I just knew this man wouldn't reject a five minute interview...ON FAN DAY! Boy, I was oh so wrong!
I an effort to get Rolle's interview, I decided to approach a coach as opposed to just running up to Rolle. Momma didn't raise no fool, I knew there would be an immediate presumption of impropriety. So, I opted to ask an older black coach, I erroneously assumed that as a minority himself he wouldn't judge me! Well, we all know what happens when you assume...I was certainly made an **** out of. The man, Anthony Edwards, gave me lip service stating "sure, I will see what I can do...I'll come find you and let you know." I saw this man at least two times after this dialogue and he wouldn't even look in my direction.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see Rolle after practice, as he and every other big named player ran immediately from the field to their dorms (please remember that Saturday was fan day, and a large percentage of the crowd drove great distances to see the players.) Naturally, I felt defeated. I had blown my opportunity for the interview that I was going to use to launch my new Cards blog site.
PUMP YOUR BREAKS FAN, all was not lost. As God would provide, I ran into Adrian Wilson at a local gas station right after practice. A glimmer, a slight iota of elation returned. Ordinarily, I would NOT have stopped Wilson, but I REALLY wanted Rolle's interview. After debating it for about two minutes, I decided what the hell, to succeed you got to be thirsty! I introduced myself, stated my purpose, and gave Wilson my business card in hopes that he would pass it on to Rolle. I must say, Wilson is the MOST intimidating individual I've run across. He is HUGE, doesn't crack and smile and is VERY dismissive. When I told Wilson that I too was an NC native, he just blew me off! I once again felt defeated. I knew that there was no shot in hell he would be passing that card along.
WELL, brace yourself readers! On Sunday night, around 10pm I get a phone call from a Miami number...I immediately think **** is this about!!!! Could it be, NAWWWWW no way! Low and behold it was Antrell Rolle! I couldn't believe it; I didn't know what to say. Ironically, I got his phone call as I was preparing an in-depth research project concerning community needs in New Orleans for another former Cane (who I pray doesn't also turn out to be a sexist male chauvinistic ****.) Anway, I was F-L-O-O-R-E-D!
As you can guess by now, my excitement was short lived! Within two minutes I would have my face cracked yet again! I presume Rolle either realized I wasn't a groupie **** or he doesn't like female fans. Either way, I'm without a Cards interview for the launch of my new Card's blog.
I will admit, there was one lone player who took time after practice to sign every single autograph. He even agreed to take photos with me and my friend. I pray this young man stays humble and remembers his fans as he goes through the maturation process. Clearly his teammates have missed the essence of FAN DAY!
But, of course this positive experience had to be capped with some good ole fashioned Cardinal's negativity! As my girlfriend and I were getting DRC's photo...a black man (go figure) with the team walks up and says, "ok girls thanks but keep it moving." Now, I don't know about you...but I'm 25 and my girlfriend is 26 and I darn sure don't look like a child nor do I appreciate being called one. I know some of you may read this as being overly sensitive, but I'm SERIOUSLY doubt either of you male fans would have been refered to as a boy...I deserve better. I quickly corrected him, as his options where either...women, ladies, Doctor (my girlfriend is a doctor) or Lawyer (I'm the law negro, you betta recognize.)
I have struggled, fought, grinded and straight busted my tail for the last four years trying to break into the sports profession. I attended a top undergraduate institution, continued straight to a top twenty law school and graduated at the age of 24. I immediately moved myself to Arizona, the up and coming "sports capital" of the US. I cannot begin to count the "informational interviews," volunteer programs, internships, cold calls and random emails, and degrading jobs that I have taken in order to break into sports. I understand that to succeed in this industry you must crawl before you can walk. Well, I've been crawling for 4 plus years and I'm still fighting on both hands and knees.
At each angle I've been shot down and pissed on, I've been told to tone down my image, advised to get a "beard", instructed to start with a white client as they would be more inclined to trust a black woman, and had David Falk himself tell me that he nor any of his clients would ever contemplate working with a black woman. I cannot help but wonder how much easier my plight would be if I were male or even a white female. Pam Oliver is the only black female face we see within sports, and that's a darn shame! Oh and in case you are wondering why I didn't just apply for a Cardinals press pass...well, I did...I went through Darren Urban and Mark Dalton both. And yep you guessed it, I was shot down.
In conclusion, I must admit that after the Rolle debacle I was a bit dejected. It was disrespect up close and personal. But, despite the ignorance of some, I want you (my supporters) to know that I'M NOT GIVING UP! God didn't bring me this far to leave me. I will succeed within this industry and I will make my mark...the struggle continues! YES WE CAN, CHANGE IN 08!