So, the game is only four days away. It seems it's time to start getting a bit more serious about this.
The key question this week, or with any conference championship game, or NLCS, or Elite Eight, or Conference Finals, or whatever, is: What would this win mean? It's difficult to argue that the game means more for the Cardinals than the Eagles. If the Buzzsaw loses, we will be sad, but we fans will remember the season with fondness and considerable bewilderment. No one will be angry. It was an incredible run. We'll never forget it. If the Eagles lose, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb must die. It's all a matter of perspective.
That doesn't mean a win wouldn't mean more for us, though. Not only have the Arizona Cardinals never been to a Super Bowl, the notions of "Arizona Cardinals" and "Super Bowl" are so incongruous that putting them in the same sentence sounds unnatural, like when your aunt asks you how excited you felt when the Boston Celtics won the World Series.
That's what this would mean to us. It would be physical proof that the Arizona Cardinals are a part of the NFL, of the NFL's history, a spot finally reserved on sports' biggest stage, at last, awareness of our existence that can never be taken away. That might not mean much to you if you are a Bears fan, or a Giants fan, or an Eagles fan, or god forbid a Cowboys fan. But it means something to us. We would be a real, live team. For the first time. That means a lot. That means a ton.
That's what Sunday's game means for us, for The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals. It's a chance, at last, to be alive in the eyes of the world.
Am I confident? I am, actually. I truly believe Arizona is going to win. I'm not cocky about it, dismissive of the opponent, like some people. I just feel like this could really happen. The stars seem aligned. The team is stronger than it has been since I can remember. And it feels like a sea change could be eminent. It feels like if we can matter now, we might continue to matter, from now on.
So: We enter the mayor's bet. A.J. Daulerio will put something extreme on the line, so, alas, I must as well. He'll be naming his stakes tomorrow, but for now, it's my turn. Let's get this down, officially.
If The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals lose to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, I, Will Leitch, shall:
1. Take A.J. Daulerio out for a dinner that involves eating as many tacos as he can handle. This is the dumb food version of the bet. I think the Baltimore mayor is giving out crabs, or something. Same thing here.
2. Take a cookie sheet to the face. Mr. Daulerio will be allowed to swing a cookie sheet as hard as he wants directly at my face. This will be filmed.
3. Shave my head. That's right. If the Cardinals lose, a licensed hairstylist in New York City will cut off all of my hair. This will also be filmed; I expect it to look exactly like Full Metal Jacket. No more emo bangs, no more lucious locks, no more hiding of the scalp birthmark that's the shape of Nova Scotia. I will shave my head.
So. There are the stakes. Daulerio will give his side of the bet tomorrow.
Uh: Go Cardinals. Please.