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Warner, Whisenhunt lead young Cardinals into Tampa

Monday, January 26, 2009

By BOB BAUM

AP Sports Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- Thanks to a strong tail wind, Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals arrived in town ahead of schedule Monday to get ready for an unexpected Super Bowl appearance.

Warner, who won a Super Bowl title with St. Louis in 2000, leads a team of Cardinals who are mostly newcomers to the NFL's biggest stage. After all, the franchise hasn't played in a title game since 1947.

"Unlike probably the other two, and I think definitely the first one, this one up to this point was really like business as usual," he said. "I really felt like it was just another road trip. The whole Super Bowl thing hasn't hit me yet."

Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt has been here before, as offensive coordinator of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl champions of three seasons ago.

"It's a little muggy out here," Whisenhunt said, "But fortunately we've got a week to get used to that."

They have much less time to get used to the media frenzy that comes with the Super Bowl, and they will lean on Warner's experience.

"Anytime you have a player that has Kurt's credentials, that has had the season that Kurt's had throughout this year, it commands respect," Whisenhunt said.

Larry Fitzgerald, whose acrobatic catches have been a highlight of the Cardinals' improbable playoff run, said Warner is a great asset to all facets of his life.

"We talk about family life, we talk about my faith in God," Fitzgerald said. "There's not anything I can't talk to him about."

Whisenhunt said he wants his team to enjoy the experience, but "we can't lose sight of the fact that we're here to play a game."

He knows that trouble lurks in the party environment that leads up to Sunday's game.

"I don't think you can talk to them about it enough," Whisenhunt said. "I've talked to them about it and will talk to them about this again. That's something that's very important. ... The only thing is give them as much information as you can about it. It really goes back to the type of players that we have. They've done a really good job of handling this so far."

The Cardinals have rolled up 95 points in playoff victories over Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia, heady stuff for a franchise that had two playoff victories its entire history before this year.

Sean Morey, who made the Pro Bowl on special teams this year for Arizona, was part of the Steelers' Super Bowl championship and was brought to the Cardinals by Whisenhunt to help instill the attitude and work ethic of a winner.

He said that after Tuesday's media day the team can focus "on the task at hand."

This isn't the first time Cardinals have spent a week in the East. They stayed in suburban Washington after losing to the Redskins to prepare for the following Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

That didn't turn out so well. The Cardinals lost 55-35.



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