FLAGSTAFF — Thousands of fans have flocked from the sweltering summer of Phoenix to the relative cool of Flagstaff to cheer on the NFC champion Arizona Cardinals at training camp.
Cardinals security officials estimated 5,000 people watched Saturday's workout on the pine tree-lined practice fields on the edge of the Northern Arizona University campus, where the elevation is 7,000 feet.
The players are feeding off the newfound adoration for a franchise that once drew only a smattering of onlookers for its training camps in its many lean years. Last year's surprising run to the Super Bowl changed all that.
Quarterback Kurt Warner took a break from a drill Saturday to go to the sidelines.
"You guys know how to do the wave?" he shouted to a cheering positive response.
Then he raised his hands and led a series of waves from the crowd that filled the bleachers and lined the practice field.
Parking lots were jammed and fans lined up 10-deep trying to get autographs when the practice ended.
"It's cool," Larry Fitzgerald said as he maneuvered his two-wheeled Segway electric cart to a crowd of cheering autograph seekers.
Those who endured the team's bad years were especially appreciative of the scene.
"It's fascinating and heartwarming at the same time," general manager Rod Graves said. "We remember the days where there wasn't this kind of interest, far from it. Just to see people have this kind of interest in the team lets us know that we've come a long way."