GLENDALE, Ariz. – Kevin Spencer oversaw plenty of noteworthy accomplishments while he was the special teams coordinator for the Cardinals from 2007-12: Kicker Jay Feely’s memorable touchdown run, Dave Zastudil’s clutch punting, the playmaking abilities of LaRod Stephens-Howling and Michael Adams, Calais Campbell’s blocked field goals and those four punt returns for touchdowns by Patrick Peterson.
Article continues below ...
But to the media who covered the team, Spencer will always be remembered as the immensely likable little guy with the short, stiff stride, the colorful personality and the hilarious anecdotes.
“I guess my mama raised me right — to be a gentleman and do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Spencer said Wednesday. “I think if you treat people decently, you’re going to have more things go your way than if you act like a knucklehead.”
Spencer was among the Cardinals coaches to lose his job after Ken Whisenhunt was fired following last season’s 5-11 finish. Spencer was still under contract, but when new coach Bruce Arians arrived, he wanted Amos Jones, so Spencer became a free agent. As has often been the case for the former coach at tiny Wesleyan University (Bill Belichick’s alma mater), he landed on his feet.
Less than a week after Whisenhunt was hired as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator, Spencer joined Mike McCoy’s staff in the same role he held in Arizona.
“I’m sure having my former boss on staff helped when they were looking to fill some positions,” Spencer chuckled.
Spencer said he is settling in with a special teams unit that “has potential, but we still don’t know how good we can be.” He attended the team’s family day on Wednesday that featured “PG-rated” rookie hazing, including a song and dance number by cornerback Marcus Cromartie and others in which they dressed in bee suits.
Spencer realizes he lives in the city where most Arizonans wish they lived. But the move wasn’t so easy because his boys, Tim and Jack, had both settled into life in the Valley and school at Phoenix Brophy Prep.
“You know you have to keep working to make ends meet, but I had been around enough coaches who live in another city from their family to know that wasn’t going to work,” Spencer said. “Hell, we miss enough during the season when we live in the same household. It’s like you go down in a submarine with the other coaches and the players, and you don’t come up again until the season’s over.”
He admits it will be weird to walk into University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday as an opponent when the Chargers face the Cardinals in the preseason.
“When I was an outsider looking in, the Cardinals had a reputation as not being a very good football team, and usually you could chalk that game up to a win,” Spencer said. “Looking up in the stadium now, seeing those banners and knowing you were part of that is special. It wasn’t like Pittsburgh where you kind of just get them to church on Sunday because the cupboard’s already full. We did some good work.”
In spite of his ouster, Spencer has nothing but fond feelings for the franchise. He’s even looking forward to reconnecting with Valley media members.
“According to the Belichick School of Journalism, I probably talk way too much,” he said. “Ask me a question and 15 minutes later I finally shut up. Hopefully, I won’t bore everybody.”