Bruce Arians wouldn’t do it. Neither would Carson Palmer or any of the Cardinals players.
But given the likely pregame mood of the team, we should give them a free pass for Sunday’s 31-7 loss to the Saints in New Orleans.
Dan Williams’ father died in a car crash on his way from the family’s home in Memphis to New Orleans to see his son play. Williams’ mom and sister were also hospitalized after the crash but are expected to survive their injuries.
A Cardinals spokesperson said the team did not have details on precisely when the accident occurred near Jackson, Miss., but that Williams, the starting nose tackle, received word of the tragedy before the team traveled to New Orleans on Saturday. He was excused from Sunday’s game.
It’s a weekly ritual in the NFL to dissect each team’s performance, puffing up the significance of wins or magnifying the trouble signs in losses.
We could talk about Arizona’s eight possessions after an opening touchdown drive that ended with a punt — four of them three-and-outs, which doubled the number of utterly futile drives the Cards produced in their first two games combined.
We could say ‘I told you the Cardinals wouldn’t have a solution for New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham,’ who had nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona’s Daryl Washington-less defense.
We could talk about poor tackling. We could talk about the poor protection’s impact on even the most poised of passers. We could talk about Palmer’s two interceptions and 43.4 passer rating.
We could talk about worrisome injuries to linebackers Lorenzo Alexander (foot), Sam Acho (ankle) and safety Rashad Johnson (finger).
We could even talk about good things, like receiver Larry Fitzgerald playing through a balky hamstring and catching five passes for 64 yards, or defensive tackle Darnell Dockett quieting the critics for a week with three sacks and four hits on Saints quarterback Drew Brees, or rookie defensive back Tyrann Mathieu snaring his first career interception and registering 10 total tackles in his return home.
But let’s not. Let’s leave those for the appropriate moment; they’re bullet points on an agenda we’ll revisit later in the week.
None of it matters right now.
“Our prayers and thoughts go to Dan,” Arians said, the only words that carried any weight or significance after the game.
We know NFL players are conditioned to block out all distractions once they hit the field. We know winning still matters in this league despite all the personal dramas — seen and unseen — that swirl about players’ and coaches’ private lives.
But let’s give the loss-induced angst a rest for a day. Out of respect. Out of human decency. Out of empathy that gives us a glimpse of a seminal moment that will change a man forever.