Actually, the Cardinals worked their asses off to get to the playoffs and to win today’s game . . . so it’s a bit misleading to say the win was a gift. I suppose it would be more correct to say, “Christmas came a few weeks late for Cardinals fans.”

And what a game it was for the fans. I attended a playoff party with some friends and the whooping, hollering, and high-fiving that went on after every score was deafening. I thought to myself, “You’d think these people had made the play themselves.”

I guess that’s part of being a fan. The word, in fact, comes from “fanatic.”

Never having been much into football (something tells me that’s related to the fact that the only deficiency note I received in high school was for failing a written test on football in PE class), I’ve always been a baseball lover – but sports fans are sports fans. We have our teams, look forward to game day, bask in the glow of glorious wins, and shake our fists in frustration when our teams fail. This Cardinals’ playoff season, though, has drawn me into the game of football like never before.

One thing I noticed about today’s game was how easily – and seemingly sincerely – some of the Eagles players congratulated the Cardinals on their win. It may happen more often than I realize, but I don’t really recall having seen such graciousness after a tough game and a hard loss.

So we’re off to see the Steelers in the Big Game in Tampa. Did you catch that? We. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? Now I’m part of the we  . . . this team, this city, this collection of fans.

Regardless of who wins, I’m just grateful for the observations and experience of the last few weeks.

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P.S. – I attended an all-girls Catholic high school. Till the day I die, I will never forget them telling us the reason we had to learn the game of football (yes, we really had written tests on the rules!) was so that we would have something to talk about with boys. Crikey! But don’t get me started…