NFL: Cardinals and Steelers arrive for Super Bowl

The pilot of their airplane stuck a team flag out the cockpit window as the Arizona Cardinals landed in a place few could have imagined.

A team whose fans haven't touched ground since the start of a stunning postseason run in early January, arrived in the Super Bowl city yesterday. With many players videotaping the proceedings - the walk across the tarmac, the bus ride to the team hotel, the first onslaught of media - it was clear that just being here meant something to a franchise long considered an NFL doormat.



"It's a great moment," said safety Adrian Wilson, the longest-tenured Cardinal. "To be here, to go through all the teams, to go through all the players, it's big for the whole organisation. It's big for the players who are here right now.



"You never know the type of team you have and you never know the circumstances. This team and this group of guys who you have right now, I think we are special."



Not that the Steelers, seeking an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl title, don't have a special feeling about their surroundings. Even though a huge chunk of them have been this route before, the cameras were out, the smiles were wide, and the warm sun was welcoming.



"Are you kidding?" said wide receiver Hines Ward, the Most Valuable Player of the Steelers' 2006 Super Bowl win over Seattle. "It's very nice to be in Tampa; it was snowing on our way here. They had to defrost the plane there was so much snow on the ground.



"It's the Super Bowl and it's a great event to take part in and, personally, I love the South, everything about being down in the South," said Ward, who grew up in Georgia. "Being in Florida, the weather is something. It definitely beats being back in Pittsburgh."



Ward and his teammates fully expect Tampa to resemble the Steel City by the weekend. No, not weather-wise; if that happens, rest assured the NFL won't be bringing its extravaganza back here. But in color, as in black and gold.



For now, with no practice sessions until Wednesday, the players actually can have some fun, too. Not too much, of course.



Neither coach is about to clamp down on his players this early in the week. They promise to keep things reasonable and as normal as possible, so don't look for any early curfews like the ones Dick Vermeil imposed on his 1980 Eagles. Philly's players got tighter as the week wore on, even as the Oakland Raiders were partying across New Orleans.



By game time, the Eagles could barely breathe, let along play football, and they were thrashed by the loose Raiders.



"He hasn't put any handcuffs on us," James Harrison, the defensive player of the year, said, referring to coach Mike Tomlin. "We have the same freedoms as if we were staying in Pittsburgh for a week, as opposed to here."



Same thing for the Cardinals, whose coach, Ken Whisenhunt, was Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator for that fifth Super Bowl win. Whisenhunt understands the importance of sticking to the norms, even if this is more than uncharted territory for the Cardinals.



He also believes the week the Cardinals spent in the East in September, with back-to-back games in Washington and the Meadowlands, will be beneficial now. Even if Arizona lost both games.



"This is a week of distractions," he said, "and this is one distraction that is not new to us. It helps us minimize that distraction."



Regardless, both coaches, as well as veterans who have gotten this far - yes, the Cardinals have some players who made Super Bowl teams elsewhere, including quarterback Kurt Warner - can't stress enough the importance of not stressing too much.



"I'm just going to have fun and enjoy it," Roethlisberger said. "I don't know if it's my last one, you never know. I hope not. I hope I can come back to five more of these, but you just never know."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory