Cardinals Coaches Face Former Team

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I won’t even pretend to know what makes professional football coaches tick. But it must be an emotional roller coaster for Arizona Cardinals coaches Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm to be playing their former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Whisenhunt spent three years with the Steelers as the team’s highly successful offensive coordinator.

Grimm, the hard-nosed assistant head coach and offensive line coach for the Cards, spent two stints with the Steelers, also as assistant head coach and line coach.

Whisenhunt, Grimm and Mike Tomlin were finalist for the Steelers’ head coaching position when Bill Cowher resigned in 2007.

The job eventually went to Tomlin and Whisenhunt and Grimm thankfully ended up in Arizona.

When the two Cardinals coaches face Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl they will be pitted against many old friends, some athletes they formerly coached and a team in which they have deep roots.

I remember my first year coaching at Payson High, 1985, and we played host to Show Low, the team I’d coached the previous seven years.

Standing on the sidelines looking over at my old team was a moving experience.

I realized I was helping coach a group I’d known about one month against opponents who I’d coached four or five years. I’d watched the Show Low kids grow up and had been a part of their lives. Now, my job was to help defeat them. It all seemed a bit surreal.

Josh Anderson had the same experience when he took the Longhorns two years ago to Chino Valley to face many of the players he had previously coached when he was at Chino.

He did a great job of shielding his emotions from his PHS players, but it was a bit of a backward situation for him.

But maybe Whisenhunt and Grimm are capable of putting past relationships with Pittsburgh on the back burner and will only be looking forward to proving Art Rooney II erred when he passed over them for the Pittsburgh head job.

This Super Bowl is bound to have more story lines than an afternoon of soap operas.

GC games

The chance for the Rim Country athletes to showcase sports skills takes center stage at the 17th annual Grand Canyon State Winter Games — the nation’s largest amateur winter sports festival.

The first of the 39 events — equestrian — tipped off Jan. 11 at WestWorld in Scottsdale.

Events continue, mostly on weekends, until April 26 when the games wrap-up with baseball, curling and the Desert Challenge.

The challenge, which is open to those 6 years of age and older with a physical disability, includes competition in aquatics, weightlifting, track and field and archery.

Most all sports competitions are conducted in age- or skill-level groups.

For example, mountain bike competitors will be classified according to skill — beginners, sport or expert — and in one of six age groups beginning at 14 years and continuing to 50-plus.

Some of the more popular sports offered are track and field, basketball, golf, 4-on-4 flag football, shooting, archery, golf, youth soccer and bowling.

There are also several unique sports including squash, rock climbing, arm wrestling, jump rope, beanbag toss and dodgeball.

While most sports are contested at various Valley-area venues, those interested in skiing and snowboarding will compete March 7 and 8 at the Arizona Snow Bowl near Flagstaff.

With a wide range of sports offerings sure to pique the interest of amateurs from around the state, executive director of the state games, Erik Widmark, is encouraging athletes of all abilities to enter.

“Get up, get active, get involved, get healthy,” he said. “This is a family affair.”

Widmark also promises the games will provide a chance to compete in an “Olympic style atmosphere.”

Entry books with complete listings of sports, playing sites and registration forms for this year’s games are available at the offices of the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway, in the Swiss Village shops.

More information is also available by calling (480) 517-9700 or online at www.gcsg.org.

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