The Arizona Cardinals are in the Super Bowl, and for that a lot of people in Phoenix are surprised and happy.
Spend any time in the city and you can't miss them. They're so new at this, the red replica jerseys they're wearing look like they just snipped off the price tags, and they have to think twice when asked to name their favorite player.
Here's something they do know: It's not Anquan Boldin.
That could change, should Boldin catch a few touchdown passes a week from Sunday in Florida and help the Cardinals complete their fairytale season with the most improbable Super Bowl win since, well, last season.
For now, though, he's just a guy who seems intent on spoiling a pretty good party.
While the Cardinals were upsetting Philadelphia, Boldin was on the sidelines, arguing with an assistant coach while Kurt Warner was leading the team to a game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Afterward, he ran into the locker room rather than join his teammates in celebrating the NFC championship game win on the field.
like a super jerk.
That's not all that surprising considering Boldin is a wide receiver, a position in the NFL that comes with an invitation to act petulant, greedy and somehow above everyone else on the team. Players like Terrell Owens, Chad Ocho Cinco and Randy Moss have combined to make this an art form over the years.
And it's not as if Boldin picked just this time to make the point that he's underappreciated and unloved in Phoenix. He's been complaining since training camp about the refusal of the Cardinals to renegotiate a contract that pays him an average of $4 million a year, while campaigning for a trade at the same time.
But, really, how dumb can you be? Your team is celebrating its biggest win ever and you're pouting because you didn't get the ball enough and don't get paid enough?
Didn't anyone along the way from Pop Warner football through high school and college ever explain that football is the ultimate team sport and that the Super Bowl is football's ultimate game?
Apparently not, and that's what has to make Arizona fans so mad. They don't care that Boldin considers himself grossly underpaid, or that he only made four catches in the Eagles game.
They only care that the Cardinals are somehow in the Super Bowl and have a chance to bring the franchise its first championship in 111 years. And they're afraid that somehow Boldin will find a way to mess that up.
they don't have much to worry about. The two weeks of hype between the conference championships and the Super Bowl may magnify what Boldin did, but be assured that next week both he and the team will go out of their way to claim everything is just peachy.
The emergence of Larry Fitzgerald as not only the best receiver on the team but perhaps the league also means the Cardinals' chances won't rise or fall on what Boldin does in the big game. They did manage to score the winning touchdown against the Eagles, after all, with Boldin on the bench until he was finally used as a decoy on the scoring toss to Tim Hightower.
Still, distractions do have a way of sinking teams in the Super Bowl. The arrest of Atlanta safety Eugene Robinson on the eve of the 1999 game on a charge of soliciting a prostitute didn't help the Falcons chances against Denver. And in 2003, Oakland center Barrett Robbins went missing for most of the week before ending up in the hospital, and the Raiders lost to Tampa Bay.
The Cardinals are going to have a tough enough time facing a Pittsburgh defense that is the best in football. The Steelers will key on stopping Fitzgerald, so it's even more important that Boldin makes the most of his chances.
Boldin needs to understand he'll have an entire offseason to make his case for more money and a different team.
at really matters - winning a Super Bowl.
----
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org

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