Am I the only one who’s waiting to see if Arizona running back Beanie Wells writes his home phone number and email address on the back of his helmet for today’s 49ers game? Perhaps he can put it right over the Cardinals logo, since that doesn’t mean anything to him anymore.
Those who say the best way to teach Beanie a lesson for his intention to audition “for the other 31 teams out there watching” is by sitting him today against one of the NFL’s top defenses — I say think again.
If you really want to teach “ol’ aches and pains” a lesson, just hand No. 26 the ball about 26 times and let him audition his way around San Francisco’s front seven. It’s not like the Big Red is going to be able to throw the ball anyway.
Bonus points if you actually know the name of today’s starting quarterback. Even in a multiple-choice question format, that’s no slam dunk. Think it’s easy? OK, today’s Cardinals quarterback is:
A. Kevin Kolb
B. John Skelton
C. Ryan Lindley
D. The guy who played quarterback between Drew Stanton and Kirk Cousins at Michigan State.
E. OK, you got me.
Beanie may not fumble on his own 1-yard line after being hit by absolutely no one today. He might not come out of the game with an injury no one else saw happen. He may even throw a shoulder pad or two in the path of an oncoming pass rusher to keep what’s-his-name upright.
But don’t leave him on the sideline again. He’s already missed half the season, carried the ball all of 88 times — well, unless you don’t count the ones he didn’t actually carry all the way. He’s sat and watched enough.
A 5-11 season — which will be the 14th time the Cardinals have won between four and six games in a season since coming to Arizona in 1988 – is carved in stone. And the only thing worse than not throwing to Larry Fitzgerald is watching these quarterback temps throw it six feet over his head or six feet in front of him like he’s screaming insults from a carnival dunking booth.
Give Beanie the ball. If he fumbles, give it to him again so he’s not mad at his coach for benching him. Allow the audition process to move forward. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Two touchdowns and 150 yards?
Will drop continue?
In January of 2009, the Cardinals were NFC champions and playing in a Super Bowl. In the spring of 2010, the Suns were in the Western Conference finals against the Lakers. In 2011, the Diamondbacks won the NL West and in 2012, the Coyotes capped a run of three straight playoff berths with Pacific Division title and a trip to the Western Conference finals.
That’s not a bad run for a four-sport city. But as the calendar turns to 2013, only the Coyotes — if they even get on the ice — have an opportunity to extend the good feelings beyond a year. That’s how fast the landscape can change in professional sports without a solid, consistent, well-funded plan.
Who will replace Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Justin Upton and Ray Whitney and take Arizona fans back to the postseason? Except for the Coyotes’ magical run to within three wins of the Stanley Cup Final, 2012 has been a season of frustration — less about the results on the field than what looms on the horizon.
There is no quarterback wearing red to groom for stardom. No man-child with uncanny athletic ability to excite on the basketball floor. No 40-homer hero who stops traffic in the aisles four times a night at Chase Field, or is a hat trick waiting to happen in Glendale whenever hockey settles this ridiculous squabble.
In the recent past, this city has enjoyed an embarrassment of riches when it comes to star power among its pro sports franchises. Some have been lauded, some demonized and some outright ignored.
But one thing can’t be argued. They are the lightning rod that energizes a sports town, and franchises that try to get along without them are doomed to an everything-must-go-right existence — or empty seats and obscurity.
In a world where it takes more and more to convince fans to trade their 60-inch, high-def home experience for the financial commitment of an arena or stadium seat, where will the buzz come from next?
The city is up for the taking. Any takers?
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.