Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Cardinals ties to Pittsburgh

With 10 days to go until Super Bowl XLIII, I felt it would be a little early to delve into doing actual coverage or previews of the game, so instead I decided to go with a bit of a slanted angle and analyze every possible little Pittsburgh-related tie from the Arizona Cardinals roster.

1. Ken Whisenhunt- Obviously, the Whiz has strong ties to the Burgh, being that he was an assistant under Bill Cowher for 6 seasons. He was the Offensive Coordinator for 3 years, including in the Super Bowl, and the tight ends coach for 3 years before that. Many fans were hoping he would be the head coach when Cowher retired, but I think things worked out pretty well for all parties this way.

2. Russ Grimm- Grimm has as many ties to the Burgh as anyone in football, probably. He was born in Scottdale, PA, and of course played his college ball at Pitt before a tremendous NFL Career. Grimm coached the Offensive Line for 6 years here in Pittsburgh, and spent the last 3 years of that time as the Assistant Head Coach. Most considered him to be the favorite to land the head coaching job when Cowher retired before Tomlin pulled the big upset.

3. Kevin Spencer- The Steelers former Special Teams coach who followed Whiz and Grimm out west.

4. Todd Haley- son of former Steelers director of player personnel Dick Haley, he was also a ballboy for the Steelers in the 70's dynasty days. Nepotism much? He also went to Upper St. Clair High School during that time.

5. Kevin Spencer- He was the Steelers special teams coach from 2002-2006 and then left the Burgh with Whiz.

6. Teryl Austin- The defensive backs coach of the Cardinals is from Sharon, PA and went to Pitt, so he's OK in my book. He started for 3 years at Pitt and graduated in 1988.

7. Bill Davis- The linebackers coach for the Cards spent 3 seasons (1992-94) as a defensive assistant for the Steelers. Also, its not Pittsburgh (or even Pennsylvania) but he is from Youngstown.

8. John Lott- The Cards strength and conditioning coach played for the Steelers in 1987.

9. Mike Miller- Miller is the Cards receivers coach and has numerous ties to the Burgh. He attended Plum High School, and followed that up by going to college at Clarion. He was an intern with the Steelers, and then he spent two years as the Running Backs coach at Robert Morris. Finally, he worked as an offensive assistant for the Steelers from 1999-2003.

10. Matt Raich- He is a defensive assistant for the Cards, and worked for the Steelers during Cowher's tenure as both an offensive assistant and as an intern. But it doesn't stop there. No, he spent 3 years at Robert Morris as a coach and 2 years at Westminster. And of course, he's from Monaca and graduated from Westminster and is even in their Hall of Fame.

Wow, 10 coaches out of the 16 on staff. That was a few more than I thought we were going to get. And there are some pretty deep ties, there, from numerous natives to working at the local small schools. Let's see what we can get from the players

Players11. Larry Fitzgerald- Of coures, Larry went down in history as one of the best offensive players in Pitt history with two unbelievable seasons at the school in 2002 and 2003. He won countless awards, was nominated for (and nearly won) the Heisman Trophy. He owns every single-season receiving record the Panthers have and is the best player I've ever seen wearing the Panther jersey (sorry Shady you weren't quite at that level).

12. Steve Breaston- Everyone remembers the incredible hype surrounding Breaston when he came out of Woody High and went to Michigan. He was one of the most spectacular high school players around in his day. The college career probably didn't go as well as he'd hoped, but he's been very good with the Cards.

13. Levi Brown- I don't usually include Penn State as a Pittsburgh tie, but in this case I'm doing so in order to boost my total number.

14. Reggie Wells- Wells, many don't know this, is from Library, PA and went to college at Clarion. Could you have possibly imagined there would be 2 Clarion ties and 2 Robert Morris ties to the Super Bowl? I couldn't have.

15. Gerald Hayes- Hayes was the first of several very good middle linebackers to come through Pitt and has turned into an excellent pro.

16. Sean Morey- Of course, Morey was the special teams specialist for the Steelers for 3 seasons and won a Super Bowl ring here. He's technically a receiver even though he caught 6 passes in those 3 years.

17. Brian St. Pierre- That's right, the quintessential 3rd string QB is still hanging around the league. He attempted his only career pass as a Steeler.

18. Jerame Tuman- Tuman spent 9 seasons with the Steelers to start his career. He caught 43 passes and scored 6 touchdowns in his time in the Burgh, but was never anything more than a second tight end.

19. Clark Haggans- Haggans technically isn't on the Cards active roster, and he was placed on injured reserve in December. Clark spent his first 7 seasons as a Steeler and recorded 32.5 sacks over that time.

20. Pat Ross- He played for Ohio in the Big 33 Classic. Obviously, not really a Pittsburgh connection, but this is something that is closely linked to the Burgh.

21. Keilen Dykes- Played at West Virginia and is from Youngstown. So basically he danced around the Pittsburgh area.

So there you have it, 21 coaches and players from the Cards that have ties back home. Pittsburgh really is everywhere.

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